Samantha Fish – The Junction, Cambridge – 13/05/2019

00 Samantha Fish Poster

Samantha Fish
The Junction, Cambridge
13/05/2019
Review by Paul Monkhouse
Photo by Laurence Harvey

Let’s just start by saying this: Samantha Fish is one of THE BEST guitarists you will ever see. Currently touring Europe, she has both the musical chops and the material to put on a real masterclass with her unique brand of country infused blues rock that is, by turns, seductive and eviscerating. Backed by a formidably tight three-piece band, she blew away the packed audience in a display of ferocious virtuosity showing that not only is Blues alive but just as vibrant and relevant today as it ever has been.

‘American Dream’ opens the set with a real swagger and kicks things off supremely, a template for the thrills to come. This was no warming gently into the show but a full-blooded leap into her world, the delightfully twisting rhythm of the song and fantastic vocal intonation of the chorus immediately drawing the crowd in. Whilst the band propel the groove, Fish is full of effortless cool and unleashes the first of many slide solos that highlight her deft touch and feel. Never someone to get complacent, there is a real shift in style to next number, the title track from the 2017 album ‘Chills and Fever’. With a delightful retro sound, it’s a much more jazzy/soul number that has a swing and style more akin musically and vocally to the late Amy Winehouse. With its terrific keys solo by Phil Breen, the song shows how Fish isn’t afraid to grow naturally and infuse her material with some of the best elements of 20th and 21st century music. In fact, it’s lazy to label her as ‘just a Blues artist’ because she is so much more than that and shows a really unique blend of different styles whilst at the same time very much having her own unique identity.

‘Wild Heart’ adds another twist with its galloping and insistent riff, the song rocking along as the passionate vocals power over the top of it. Fish looks utterly consumed by the music as a curl of blonde hair falls over her eyes whilst she rips into her guitar, her whole body lost in the glorious sound. ‘You Can’t Go’ wasn’t so much an instruction as an impossibility, transfixed as the audience were by the four musicians onstage and featured yet another outstanding solo whilst the more mellow ‘Hello Stranger’ cooled the pace once more with its soulfulness. ‘Cow Town’ was introduced with the tongue in cheek “for all you Hillbillies out there” and featured a much more ‘country’ twang to the vocals. Breen was again given the platform to shine as individual solos by both keys and guitar took the spotlight and highlighted the superior calibre of musicianship, each member of the band a master of their craft.

The first of two newly released singles, ‘Watch It Die’ is an incredibly catchy taster from forthcoming album ‘Kill or Be Kind’, propelled along by a pedal to the floor riff that is unpinned by bass player Chris Alexander and drummer Scotty Graves who lock in to provide a rock-solid base whilst adding their own style and panache. Coming over like a heavier version of prime late 70’s Fleetwood Mac, it transported the Monday night Cambridge crowd to the widescreen vistas of desert highways of Mid-West America, speeding along in an open top Pontiac GTO, a testament to the songwriting flair and an evocation of Fish’s Kansas roots. Further capturing the spirit of America, ‘Little Baby’ was an exercise in joyful rockabilly that saw the band having as much of a ball as the audience, it’s lyrics of longing and regret juxtaposed with the upbeat bounce of the music. Once more, the rhythm section of Alexander and Graves shone as they drove the beat along, the live version ramping up the fire of the original recording.

The slow, soulful country blues of ‘Go Home’ provided a much-needed breather and showed how Fish could shine equally as well with an acoustic guitar as electric, delicately plucking at the strings as her plaintive voice soared. A truly beautiful number, the vocal harmonies lifted it even further into the realms of the angelic and there was a hushed awe as if the slightest noise could break the spell. Following that with another tender number would have proven impossible so ‘Gone For Good’ was a rocking, raging storm of bottleneck slide guitar masterstroke, sandwiched as it was between the ballad and the second of the new releases ‘Love Letters’. Again, it can’t be overstated that Samantha Fish is not only an incredible player but a superb songwriter too and the track is both slinky and seductive whilst being instantly memorable therefore making it a perfect single to release.

A phenomenal ‘Somebody’s Always Trying’ is an exercise of swing that strips the sound to a pulsating, mellow soundscape, its breakdown building to an extended solo that really is a highlight of the night as the guitar sighs and screams before heading back into the chorus to finish the song. Rounding off the set, ‘Shake Em On Down’ was a perfect slice of down and dirty blues, the four-string cigar box guitar adding exactly the right level of authenticity and grit as the song slides along with the smoothness and slightly rough edge of a good bourbon. Of course, the crowd weren’t going to let the band just go without an encore and their chants and claps were rewarded as, to a huge roar, the four musicians strolled back on stage. Ripping into the heavy-duty rocker ‘Bitch On The Run’, it’s snotty, snarling attitude and irresistible chorus squeezed ever last drop of energy out of the audience and left them empty before saying a final goodnight. A barnstorming showstopper in every sense of the word, it was the perfect end to a perfect evening and one that those lucky enough to be there will be talking about for years to come.

Absolutely incredible.

LINKS:

Samantha Fish


https://www.facebook.com/samanthafishmusic/

https://www.instagram.com/samanthafishmusic/

 

01 Samantha Fish by Laurence Harvey

 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Monkhouse and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Photo reproduced here with kind permission of Laurence Harvey

 

Dirty Thrills – Heavy Living

Heavy Living Cover

Dirty Thrills – Heavy Living

Running time 45:00

Released on 15-09-2017 via Frontiers Music srl

8/10 – Review by Vikkie “Queen of Rock” Richmond

It’s no secret that blues rockers Dirty Thrills have long since been a favourite of mine; I found them through twitter some time back and have followed their journey with interest.  Most noted for front man Louis James’ trademark soaring vocals and bassist Aaron Plows’ gurning, bendy performances on stage, the Thrills’ could be described as a modern-day Led Zeppelin.  However, they have a style all of their own so I was interested to hear this, their second full length offering.

Opening track “I’ll Be With You” kicks off with a heavy bass line and a dirty riff, with James’ vocals slinking in.  This is instant gratification if you’re a fan of bands such as Rival Sons, Deep Purple et al, but don’t think for a minute that Dirty Thrills don’t have a unique sound – this track gave me goosebumps when I first heard it.

“Go Slow” has a similar, almost seedy feel to it but features some epic vocals and sweet riffs, not to mention some pretty cool harmonica work.

From the slow and sexy tempo of “Hanging Around” to the thoughtful and rather lovely “Lonely Soul” and the semi instrumental interlude of, well, “Interlude”, this album exudes a smutty charm that is rarely seen these days. If I had a physical LP, it would be smouldering in my hands. From the big, big sounds of “The Brave” and back to picking up the pace with the very vocal “Rabbit Hole”, this does have something for everyone, although I can’t help but make comparisons with bands such as Rival Sons.  It’s inevitable, the style is comparable and these days, it is hard to be completely individual or ground breaking.

So, basically what we have here is a triumphant third release for the London quartet.  There is certainly evidence of a maturing sound, although I am surprised that “No Resolve” is featured again, having made its debut on the eponymously titled first album; perhaps it’s because it’s probably one of their most recognisable tracks as well as being a great song.

Dirty Thrills are clearly in their ascendancy; with a plethora of live shows under their collective belts, including very successful slots at this year’s Ramblin’ Man and Camden Rocks Festivals, the slow burn is starting to flare into something altogether more hot and out of control.  I say best of luck to them – they’re perky, hard-working chaps who deserve their break.

Dirty Thrills band pic

 

Track List –

  • I’ll Be With You
  • Go Slow
  • Law Man
  • Hanging Around
  • Lonely Soul
  • No Resolve
  • Interlude
  • The Brave
  • Rabbit Hole
  • Drunk Words
  • Get Loose

Stand out tracks:  Go Slow, Drunk Words, Get Loose

Links –

 

Disclaimer:  This review is the sole property of Vikkie Richmond and Ever Metal.  It is strictly forbidden to reproduce any part of this review, unless you have the explicit permission of both parties; failure to comply will be treated as plagiarism and reported to the relevant authorities.