Samantha Crain ‘Kid Face'
Her distinctive croon and literate lyrics are as potent as ever, but Oklahoma singer-songwriter Samantha Crain layers a palpable vulnerability on “Kid Face,” her most autobiographical album to date.
With her third LP, Crain, 26, courageously channels her personal heartbreaks and breakthroughs into her usual poetic folk/rock, giving the 11 songs added emotional veracity. The Dale High School graduate's music has always been imbued with earthy authenticity, but she uses personal experience to hone her pen to an even finer point with “Kid Face.”
Crain wrote all 11 tracks and recorded them at producer John Vanderslice's all-analog Tiny Telephone studios in San Francisco, which only boosts the rootsy warmth already inherent in her sound. The troubadour emanates self-confidence and determination with the first single, the jangly folk kiss-off “Never Going Back.”
On the shuffling confessional “Taught to Lie,” the Shawnee native shows off her penchant for erudite and evocative lyrics like “If you take Anderson Road, you'll find a box that I have stowed / Behind an old Conoco sign that's shiny silver in the night / And in the box there is a stone and a little red rattail comb / And seven motel keys, and a souvenir penny / Because I don't forget the past.”
Her haunting vocals intertwine beautifully with Norman violinist Daniel Foulks' gypsy fiddle on “Paint,” and she and her musical cohorts, including fellow Oklahomans Brine Webb, John Calvin and Kyle Reid, bring a delicate prettiness to the ponderous melancholy of “We've Been Found.” The tuneful cacophony they build up to with “Sand Paintings” brings to mind late-era Beatles.
With her baby face, old soul and weathered alto, the title track with its themes of growing up and coping with 9disillusionment would probably resonate even without the intricate vocal performance she gives.
Crain also ruminates on the state of the world with the folky tracks “Ax” and “Somewhere All the Time,” but the best part of “Kid Face” is when she lets listeners get a good look inside her head.
— Brandy McDonnell