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Love Shack, Baby - Samantha Crain: You (Understood) …. flowing precision

5.29.10

Samantha Crain: You (Understood) …. flowing precision

Suddenly last night I couldn’t find you.

You ran beneath a plume of smoke.

And all your sisters, they ran after you.

When did you know… that you were chosen?

Cause it’s a wicked world for you to grow up in.

And it’s a thickened skin, the skin you walk around with.

Just don’t get cold.

Cause soon your own…

fatalistic dreams follow you.

And it’s a hapless place that time will tell.

I know you don’t need another mother.

So I’m giving …you …something … else.

Cause it’s a wicked world for you to grow up in.

And it’s a thickened skin, the skin you walk around in.

Just don’t get cold.

Cause soon your own…

You can take it slow, you don’t have to know it all…(I’m sorry I went too far.)

You can take it slow, you don’t have to know it all… (Im sorry I went too far.)

You can take it slow, you don’t have to know it all (I’m sorry I went too far.)

You can take it slow, you don’t have to know it all (I’m sorry I went too far.)

Cause it’s a wicked world for you to grow up in.

Yeah there’s wrong, there’s right.

There’s not a list to memorize.

Can we see your heart?

But I’m blind in that part… in… you.

I’m sorry I went too far.

“Wichitalright”

Samantha Crain knows the advantages to taking it slow, she’s seemingly always known this. From her first EP, The Confiscation, this young woman with her syrupy, quavering voice, has poured out her heart to us in more than a few ways. She’s done traditional folk melodies, alt-country ballads, kick-up-your-boots rock songs and on this new album she stretches even further. What remains constant is that gorgeous contrast between her voice sung low and quiet when it’s soft and velvety and as it is when it’s loud and full throated and lush. This contrast, used again and again (and I never grow weary of it), is woven throughout You (Understood) but doesn’t define this new and beautiful album. I’m having a difficult time defining it at all.

Lions mp3 Samantha Crain You (Understood) ….. pre-order here!

“Lions” is the winning track for any Samantha Crain fan; it’s a perfect meld of her EP and previous album, Songs In The Night,. What a fitting first track! Other songs like “We Are The Same” are a natural extension of her work, to my ear. Slow and sweet, it takes the advantages of expert production to capture the intimacy of vocals and guitar with simple, pared down harmonies to elaborate equally intimate lyrics. “Santa Fe,” track eight, jumps right off her last album as well, with a very comfortable duet and hint of banjo in the undertones. DC, of The Waiting Room, and I have been drooling over discussing this album for days; we’ve been so excited to get our hands on it. He’s eager for me to tell you just how much ”the basslines are gorgeous, bulbous. The guitars are ragged and sharp. The production is crystal sharp; you can hear the individual layers of instrumentation and the stereo mix is giddyingly spot on. This feels like it has been laboured upon, analysed, poured over, perfected. but you just know this has been perfectly stress-free, with no fuss or needless fiddling.” Yes, I stole those words from him, unabashedly. I also love what I hear on “Blueprints;” a sinewy melody that winds itself around such beautiful and heartfelt lyrics. Here’s what she wrote about the song and posted just yesterday on her MySpace page:

I would like to think that we all are pre-drawn, mapped-out entities. For that to be true, it would treat understanding people and knowing yourself like studying for a history test. You congregate your inventory of facts from all the research and reading you’ve done on the subject and, the more you examine, the better you retain the information and the more you know. But people are not blueprints, they are relentlessly in flux, changing their minds, their preferences, their haircuts, their accents, and this makes it unfeasible to ever know someone. I used to be discouraged by that but I think that is how we can show that we love each other, by showing that you’re ready to pay enough attention and time to find out who that person is today and the next day and the day after that.

This album is full of insight and soul searching but without all the hand-wringing that is so often found on those kind of things. No, You (Understood) is positive, full of light, encouraging, with interesting instrumental changes. It just moves from one song to the next in a perfectly wonderful way. It’s shameful of me to not review it track by track, for that is certainly one of its strengths. I thought numerous times that I had settled in and could begin writing this review. And then another song would hit me and I had no idea how to describe that! “Equinox” is that song, par excellence! It’s quirky and fresh and like nothing I’ve ever heard her sing. These songs flow one to the next in precision if one could imagine a flowing precision. In fact, Samantha Crain herself embodies just such an oxymoron, “flowing precision.”

“Wichitalright” is where it hit me, just how this all hangs together – how I think she’s able to transverse genres and excel at every step. Beginning like a slow waltz it lulls and soothes, and yet as she sings such comforting words her voice cries so sadly. Of all the Samantha Crain songs I know, this one has most artfully captured what she desired, in my opinion. Re-read the lyrics I’ve copied at the beginning of this review. I listen to this song over and over and, I realize, this is not folk music any more. Samantha Crain has crossed over into some smoky room with a big white piano and amber-colored drinks on ice. And I quite like this side of her. But not for long! The very next track, “Two-Sidedness” jars me awake and out of that lull; instrumentally it’s mature and harsh against her voice which flows through it in great watery ribbons. At this point in the album, I’m utterly convinced she can do anything. And “Toothpicks,” track eleven is where she proves just that with a completely avant garde, lopsided, gutsy experiment that ends so abruptly that I had to listen to it four times to decipher it. It’s the kind of ending that had me shaking my head and laughing to myself. On a good day I can’t tell enough people about Samantha Crain. After hearing this album, I can’t tell enough people about Samantha Crain on even the worst of days. She’s come into a fine inheritance with You (Understood) and it’s about time you all take note of it. Check my post here for tour dates.

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  • Posted on June 4