On November 3rd, Kansas City, Missouri native and contemporary blues artist Samantha Fish released her latest work, an album titled Belle Of The West. Riddled with catchy hooks, beautiful melodies, and a flare for the dramatic, Fish has pushed the envelope slightly more than with her previous work, challenging her own sound at times and really coming at us with guns a-blazin’ with attitude, fun, and intensity that is a surefire reflection of what the live performance of this album will be like. Admits Fish of Belle Of The West:
To me, this is a natural progression. It’s a storytelling record by a girl who grew up in the Midwest. It’s a personal album. I really focused on the songwriting and the vocals and the melodies and the emotion, and on bringing another dimension to what I do. I wasn’t interested in shredding on guitar, although we did end up doing a few heavier things. I love the Mississippi style of the blues; there’s something very soulful and very real about that style of music, so this was a chance to immerse myself in that. It’s definitely a song record and an emotional record, and I’m really excited to play these songs live.
And we’re excited to see them live, as each of the eleven tracks could stand on its own with personality and attitude to boot. Take first track “American Dream” for example, with percussion that drives the track into an uplifting sound space, a song that has more attitude than its followup “Blood in The Water”, but is less confrontational. In fact, when Fish belts, “there is blood in the water” it seems like she is coming to this realization in a soothing environment, or that’s the way her vocals make us feel. “Need You More” picks up the pace slightly, making your heart ache with loneliness as Fish sings about her desire for love with a certain someone.
“Cowtown” is more about escapism from the mundanity of the every day no matter where you’re at, while “Daughters” is a dark reflection of a push and pull relationship with your roots. “Don’t Say You Love Me” brings back more of the strong belting we have come to know and love from Fish, really emphasizing the need to have things done on her own terms while she’s “playing with fire.” The title track once again lightens up the mood a bit instrumentally – though keeps the tempo slower – a somehow positive ending in the melancholically-delivered lyrics “she’s southbound for glory.” But nothing picks up like the pace and the mood in “Poor Black Mattie”, which brings out more of a southern flare than its predecessors, something we’ve come to expect and enjoy from producer Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars).
“No Angels” feels devious from the start, and we imagine that if Sons of Anarchy were still being made, this song would get placement in a heartbeat. “Nearing Home” has a positive title, slowing the album down to a crawl that a good last song would round out the album at. But this bittersweet track is only second to last, the track “Gone For Good” painting a more finite picture for us amongst standout guitar and smooth as butter vocals as the final in an eleven-track stunner.