Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Samantha Fish -- Belle of the West

Belle of the West is just an explosion of talent. While it's primarily a blues album, there's such a profusion of joy in the moment that I'm left walking away with that more so than anything conveyed by the songs themselves. That's not to knock the quality of Fish's songwriting -- it's just that the sheer power of the performances on here supersede everything else.

This is Fish's fifth album and she brought a true all-star roster with her. Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi All-Stars helmed the production. Shardé Thomas (whom you may have heard on last week's Mountain Stage with Dickinson) contributes her fife and voice. Rounding out the band are Lillie Mae (whose distinctive vocals are featured on “Nearing Home”), much-traveled juke-joint blues artist Lightnin’ Malcolm (featured on “Poor Black Mattie”), Squirrel Nut Zippers founder Jimbo Mathus, upright bassist and beloved solo artist Amy LaVere, Tikyra Jackson, and Trina Raimey. It's no wonder the album has already hit #1 on Amazon's and iTunes' blues chart.

But Fish's songwriting also holds its own. The songs take a painterly approach to life that feel as if they could more than hold their own in a honky tonk. Unlike a lot of the blues I've listened to lately, the focus here is less on technical prowess and more on delivering a powerful song. Fish's emotional palate ranges throughout the map with an easy confidence that makes Belle of the West a jewel of an album.

Samantha Fish -- Official, Facebook, Purchase on iTunes

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