Samantha Crain, “Under Branch & Thorn & Tree”
A Singer-Songwriter Pushes Toward a Place of Honesty
Ten days. No computers. Samantha Crain wanted her fourth album to touch something real, and teamed with producer John Vanderslice to make it happen. “My guitar and vocals are all first or second takes,” she explains. “This is what I sound like playing with these musicians in this studio. This record captures a moment in time where we all made music together. It’s an honest record in a world where everything is cut up and polished.” The hauntingly beautiful result, “Under Branch & Thorn & Tree,” drops July 17.
The album takes its name from her concept of the dispossessed – those who don’t live in mansions and are voiceless and underrepresented in the American oligarchy – and its contents bubble with discontent. From the fork-tailed personification of institutional injustice in “Killer” to the cold-eyed forces of conformity in “Outside the Pale,” Crain’s tracks take the side of the underdog and are unafraid to protest. Listeners shouldn’t expect Zack de la Rocha levels of bellowed vitriol, but her voice is perfect for less strident raging against the machinery of modern society. And one of the album’s graces is that it’s not simply a litany of external inequities; several tracks are intensely personal in scope and almost confessional. Crain admits in the liner notes to “You Or Mystery” that when she came to the realization about her neighbor that prompted the song, “that information about myself was a hard pill to swallow.”
Whether it’s a necessary macro-level alteration or a one-to-one relationship you wish you could hang onto, life is about change. The best you can do is try to be true to yourself, and don’t be afraid to share your voice.