2017 – Ruf Records
Release Date : Nov. 03, 2017
By Phillip Smith; Nov 18, 2017
With Belle of the West, Samantha Fish continues to knock my socks off with her music. Since 2011, this fierce guitar-slinging singer-songwriter from Kansas City has released five spectacular albums. Belle of the West is the second one of 2017. In March, Fish turned a lot of heads with the fabulous Chills and Fever album, which focused mainly on R&B deep cuts from the Sixties and Seventies. Belle of the West, takes a more rootsy route, with Fish exploring the nooks and crannies of Americana. Recorded at Zebra Ranch Studio in Independence, Mississippi, this album again reunites Fish with Luther Dickinson ( North Mississippi Allstars, South Memphis String Band) for his production expertise as well as guitar and mandolin prowess. Also appearing on the album is Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers, South Memphis String Band) on Fender Rhodes piano and harmonica, Lightnin’ Malcom on guitar/harmonica , Amy LaVere on upright bass, Lillie Mae on violin, Tikyra Jackson and Trina Raimy on drums, and Sharde Thomas on fife and drums.
Powered by a big bowlful of moxie, Samantha ushers the listener into “American Dream”. The violin accompaniment is the cherry on top of this swirly drum and fife driven masterpiece. “Blood in the Water” cleverly follows right behind, slowly accumulating a tense and unsettling vibe with its lulling rhythm. Fish’s exquisite vocals highlight “Cowtown”, a riveting country-fried toast to escaping the clutches of small-town living. Loaded with gobs of twangy guitar and a rocking piano backer, this sticks its landing as one of my favorites. “Daughters” is an especially captivating song. It is fabulously written and filled with emotion.
Title-track, “Belle of the West”, penned by Jimbo Mathus has a strong Willie Nelson air about it and is a nostalgic call-back to the golden era of country music’s story-telling songs. I adore Samantha’s cover of the RL Burnside classic “Poor Black Mattie” too. It’s an absolute pleasure to hear Dickinson record the song again. It was one of my favorite cuts off the Shake Hands With Shorty album he recorded with the North Mississippi Allstars seventeen years ago.
Samantha Fish has once again brilliantly defied those who would pigeonhole her as one particular type of artist. The well from which her talents are drawn runs incredibly deep. As far as I’m concerned, this record, “Belle of the West” is destined to be an instant classic.
Links to other PhillyCheeze Reviews featuring Samantha Fish
PhillyCheeze Album Review : Samantha Fish - Chills & Fever
PhillyCheeze Concert Review and Photos : Samantha Fish - Live @ Campbell Steele Gallery : 3/18/16
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