Samantha Crain - The Slaughtered Lamb, London

There are a million singer-songwriters doing the rounds these days. Most are on a budget so it's often just them and a guitar, sometimes a keyboard. Tonight, there are two mics, a keyboard and guitars, all squashed into the corner of the compact basement room at The Slaughtered Lamb. London does its best to echo what's happening on stage by piling in as many bodies as possible for the chance to see Oklahoman Samantha Crain in the flesh.

In many ways it’s an evening of contrasts, not in the quality of the performance though, that’s way above average all night. The Kid Face singer may be small in stature, but has a big personality and huge voice that she has total control of, with subtle nuances to her performance that aren’t obvious on her record.

In a set heavy with tracks from her latest release, each song comes introduced by its own anecdote: fortune cookies for ‘Churchill’ (“Teaspoon in the morning, tablespoon at night.”); ‘Devils In Boston’ is actually about New York but New York City had too many syllables to fit; the wonderfully thoughtful ‘Paint’ was written in a lonely moment on tour in the UK with Adrian ‘Ade’ Edmondson. The slight jaunt of ‘Somewhere All The Time’ was written during ad breaks while she was watching the movie Convoy.

Crain plays the songs with feeling and by the end of her 75 minutes in the spotlight the crowd are in the palm of her hand, happily getting involved in the acoustic section of the set. She has an interesting world view: she takes normal everyday things, thinks about them too much, gets quite down about them, then turns that feeling into intelligent, tuneful songs.

But it's these contrasts that work. Happiness and sadness, light and dark, call it what you want, you know you’ve experienced something never less than fascinating.

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