Samantha Crain - You (Understood)
Samantha Crain is the little-known twentysomething singer from Oklahoma who hopes enough of you understand. Following a previous effort with band Midnight Shivers (yeah, me either), Crain gives her solo LP a belated UK release. Crain's voice is the primary selling point here, reminiscent at times of Anna Calvi and obscure indie singer Angie Hart with some of the mannerisms of Regina Spektor thrown in for good measure. However, despite those comparisons, You (Understood) deserves to be judged on its own merits as it is a solid album that will find a place in the collections of people (yours truly included) who like their contemporary female singer/songwriters to bare their teeth now and then.
Over eleven songs, Crain guides the listener over her literate verse while underscoring her words with both acoustic and electric guitar, her backing players providing bass and drums. At times - indeed, the times when the album really pulls you in - the combination of Crain's voice and the bluesy instrumentation threatens to become unhinged without losing any of its subtlety (yes, even when 'Two-Sidedness' dusts off the bagpipes). She excels in changing gears, from the playful romp of 'Up On The Table' to the irresistible banjo-aided boy/girl duet 'Santa Fey'. The required heartbreaker is correct and present too: 'We Are The Same' is delicate, heart-on-sleeve folk at its best, a song one could imagine springing from the pen of Ryan Adams at his most desolate. Understand?