‘Under Branch & Thorn & Tree’ by Samantha Crain (Album)

15 July, 2015 in Music Reviews

Samantha Crain

Samantha Crain blends subtly poetic imagery with an eerie musicality to great effect. Pic: David McClister

This beautifully crafted new album of intricate alt-country from singer-songwriter Samantha Crain is brimming with poignant tales of everyday life

Samantha Crain ‘Under Brand & Thorn & Tree’  LP covernder Branch & Thorn & Tree is the fourth album from singer-songwriter Samantha Crain. Described as stories “told from the perspective of the underdog, the 99% of us that are working people”, this collection of songs blends subtly poetic imagery with an eerie musicality to great effect.

Killer is a slightly misleading start to proceedings – a slippery FX-heavy track that is at odds with the record it leads you through to. It is an elaborate futuristic doorway opening into a delicate country cottage. Kathleen and Elk City quickly re-establish Crain as a master of alt-country vignettes. On the latter she sings “I met a guy at The Longhorn / he said he could fix my washing machine” – quite literally the definition of homespun lyrics.

It is these small character details which are both simple and hugely powerful. The lead character in You Or Mystery “never asked for sugar / never said hello”; the perfect lyrical partner to the music’s sparse and haunting mystique. A similar atmosphere infuses most of the album, heightened by Crain’s immaculate phrasing and expressive singing style which is best showcased as it soars on If I Had A Dollar.

For some people Under Branch & Thorn & Tree might be a little too sleepy, however the strummable country of Big Rock provides the album with a needed tempo shift, bringing plenty of toe-tapping with it. For most, this will be another hugely enjoyable glimpse into the beauty and suffering of everyday life.

Verdict: The power of simplicity at its best

Duncan Haskell