Hey everyone, Autopsy IV here. Sometimes someone sends you a review that puts things so well you just decide to scrap your own intentions of writing one and just run theirs. Such is the case today. Kyle Coroneos, a regular reader and frequent commentor sent my this review a couple of weeks ago and there is no better time to run it than on the album’s release date.
They say you have your whole life to write your first long player. Well if that’s true, then you have your whole life to mess up and second guess yourself on your second one. The way you follow up an album that was a critic’s favorite is with solid songs, and if you can pull it off, a solid album. With Samantha Crain’s sophomore offering, You (Understood), she does both.
If you’re talking about Samantha Crain, you have to start by mentioning her voice. It is like a strange vegetable. You’re not sure what to make of it at first. You poke at it a little, maybe take a nibble. But with a little faith you take it in full fledged, and all of a sudden you could base a religion behind it. “Eat More Kale!” “Listen to Samantha Crain!” Because it’s good for you.
Talk of oversinging is debunked by seeing her live. It is straight from the soul. But In You (Understood) Samantha’s voice takes on an even more intriguing wrinkle: emotion. Somehow, without breaking her stride of rounding words and vowels to make an eloquent offering of intelligent lyrics, she added some squeaks, cracks, and fades at times to drive home the mood of the song. The result is making these songs stick to your bones in the form of memory.
You know those albums, right? The ones that no matter when or where you hear them, they take you back to that place where you first heard them, and the emotions you were feeling at that time. Well this album has a strange way of making this happen almost instantly. It grounds you sheerly in the moment, exaggerates your current emotional state, and makes you take stock.
The hits of this album (so to speak) are the first track “Lions,” and “Santa Fe.” But don’t look past the very simple and sweet “We Are The Same.” With this song, Samantha catches you looking the other way. Her lyrics are usually steeped in poetic turns and hyperbole. But this one is stark and straightforward, bitingly so. Melancholy, bordering on angry, almost immature if it wasn’t so damn well done.
No matter what Samantha Crain does, it is probably going to feel a little melancholy because of the mood of her voice, but she was not afraid to have a little fun on this album, and toy with some rock elements without diluting them with folk or country influences. Songs like “Up On The Table” and “Holdin’ That Wheel” don’t hold back and also show curiously masterful understanding of instrument tones and arrangement. “Up On The Table” forced me to ask myself, “Can a grown ass man who considers himself an enlightened music consumer really listen to the same song 5 times in a row? OK how about 6? Can I try for 7?”
This album is not going to break any land speed records or cure cancer. What it does do is keep Samantha pointed on a very solid, and exciting path. Think of Lucinda, or another female artist now with a household name who just kept on putting out great albums until the popular consciousness had no other choice but to say uncle and recognize their brilliance. Samantha Crain is not a sugar high. I told you, she’s like a vegetable, imparting long term vitality and fulfillment as opposed to the short lived spark. So take a heaping helping, and then pass the plate. Because it’s good for you.