Belle Of The West

Belle Of The West

Artist: Samantha Fish

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Format: CD
Label: RUF
Rel. Date: 11/03/2017
UPC: 710347124825

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2017 release from the blues singer, songwriter and guitarist. Fish recorded Belle of the West in the relaxed, rural creative atmosphere of the legendary Zebra Ranch Studios in the North Hills of Mississippi with producer Luther Dickinson (of North Mississippi Allstars fame), with whom she worked previously on her 2015 album Wild Heart. The studio team included some of the region's most iconoclastic musicians, including Dickinson, solo artist and Jack White associate Lillie Mae, much-traveled juke-joint blues artist Lightnin' Malcolm, Squirrel Nut Zippers founder Jimbo Mathus, upright bassist and beloved solo artist Amy LaVere, Tikyra Jackson, Trina Raimey and Shardé Thomas, granddaughter of the legendary Southern bluesman Otha Turner.

Reviews:

Samantha Fish ~~ Belle Of The West

Ruf Records         46 minutes

I have to wonder what drives some artists. Earlier this year, Samantha Fish released an album, Chills & Fever, that delved more into gritty rock and roll and R&B than blues. It caught a number of her fans by surprise, but they gave it a chance and the album was a big hit with audiences and critics alike.

Now she has come back with a second album for 2017, not an easy feat by any means, Belle Of The West, which explores her more country and roots side. Will her audience embrace the effort? It’s too early to tell, but sales have been strong and she’s delivered enough blues material to whet the appetite of longtime fans while creating a new sound that will most likely deliver new fans to her camp.

It’s not out of the question for an artist to explore these new sounds, especially as Fish came out of the Kansas City music scene. Kansas City is a major crossroads artistically, and it would have been difficult for Fish, or any artist for that matter, to remain isolated against all those influences.

While blues fans will naturally gravitate towards songs like Poor Black Mattie, a duet with Lightnin’ Malcolm, and No Angels, don’t discount the power of songs like Blood In The Water, Cowtown, or Don’t Say You Love Me. There’s a great deal of power in each of those songs.

What struck me was the softer gentler numbers like Need You More, Daughters, and Nearing Home. Those songs have some of the sweetest true country sounds as I’ve heard in a long time.

Not content to make the same album over and over, Samantha Fish has listened to the siren call of the music and explored different genres twice this year. It will ultimately be up to her audience to see how many of her longtime fans will respond positively and how many of her newer ones will go back and search her catalog to discover what she’s already released.

Personally, I believe that music doesn’t need to be confined to labels, and if you happen to find something that speaks to you, you should listen and genre labels be damned. Blues, country, Americana, roots, and good old rock and roll are all just variations on a theme, so to me it’s only natural that a real artist would want to blur the distinctions between them and just make the music she wants to perform.

Review by John Porter. Porter is the co-host of WCVE-FM’s Time For The Blues which is available online at http://ideastations.org/radio. His full length reviews can be found on his blog at https://professorjohnnyp.blogspot.com/