Samantha Fish is not afraid to cross the lines between genres, though it doesn’t take a genius to work out she is an out and out disciple of the blues. Her latest offering Kill or Be Kind kicks off with all of the fuzz-soaked blues goodness we’d expect. Opening track Bulletproof is loaded to the brim with tasty slide guitar licks and that hefty stomp that makes your head bob along.
Recorded in Memphis, this album is full to the brim with soul, and so it should be, it was recorded in the same room as many soul giants such as Al Green and Ann Peebles.
Second track Kill or Be Kind has an almost melancholic feel, Samantha’s softly sweet vocals are almost haunting. The track has a guitar solo to die for, her playing is fantastic, her phrasing harks back to the greats of the blues and you can feel every note.
Love Letters, with its incredibly round low end, is almost R n B in its approach. Right now in the music world, there are a few artists putting a very contemporary swing on the standard blues formula. I think Samantha and Gary Clark Jr. are flying the flag for the future of blues in an ever-modernising world.
I’m a sucker for a great riff and Watch It Die hooks me in from the first bar, that riff followed by the slide guitar that underpins the verse is exactly what I think the future of the blues should look like. This has a bit of rock for the hard-hitting lovers in the room but retains enough of the classics to satisfy the purists.
I can’t help but feel that the vibe in that Memphis studio inspired Try Not To Fall in Love with You, the song drips Motown and Soul vibes from every musical orifice, and that’s not a bad thing. I’m hearing elements of some of my favourite Motown tracks in the melodies and in some of the “belting it out moments” she even sounds a little like Susan Tedeschi whose voice I love. This has all the old school grunt you want it to have with the modern guitar stylings of John Mayer. I knew from the first note of the guitar solo on this track that it would be my favourite lead break of the whole album. I can even hear a little BB King over the outro lead licks.
Fair-Warning further keeps the contemporary vibe going, I could hear this song fitting into the UK Charts, it’s certainly got all the modern ballad boxes ticked but yet it remains genuine and very much believable. Can I change my mind about my favourite guitar solo on the album? This one might have taken the lead.
Love Your Lies picks up the pace, loud horns, fast paced guitars, here is a song that will get the room shaking at any gig. I think Samantha’s voice sounds particularly great on this track, it’s great to hear some of the power she can harness.
In recent years I’ve discovered the joys of Americana, it’s a genre which shares some elements of country but is often fairly down tempo and fantastic for chilling out. Dream Girl is a song that certainly fits into my idea of this style. Fantastic slide guitar and gorgeous vocal harmonies make this song a wonderful listen for me.
It’s about time we got back to the soul and blues and She Don’t Live Around Here takes us straight there. This shuffle laden ballad tells us the story of being used and finding strength in leaving. I keep mentioning the slide guitar parts, but I can’t help but feel that each time they offer something fantastic to the song.
Dirty is an angry song, it might not sound angry on the surface but listen to those lyrics! Someone has done Samantha wrong and she’s out for blood. From the sounds of it, she’s going to get it!
Arriving at the final track, You Got It Bad, the album has flown by. I feel I’m not ready to let it end just yet which I think is always a good indicator of a strong album. This song takes us back to some bluesy, riff driven stompage (Is that even a word?). The horns that frame the chorus gives the song that wonderful Memphis sound as it interweaves with the dirty guitars. Then there’s the slide guitar solo… I won’t go there again but it’s awesome.
All in all, this album has hooked me in from the word go. I’m impressed. I’ve been somewhat watching Samantha from a distance over the years but admittedly never having had the chance to sit down and go over her discography. From today, I’m a convert. I’d perhaps like to have heard a song or two that pushed the rockier edge of things, but honestly, I’m struggling to even look for something to pick out here that I didn’t like.
It’s got it all… riffs, leads, blues, soul, energy. Kill or Be Kind… Samantha is KILLING it.
Author: Leigh Fuge
Buy Kill Or Be Kind Here