April 29, 2009
Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers
Songs in the Night
Samantha Crain hails from Shawnee, Oklahoma, and along with the Midnight Shivers, performs a variety of folk-esque rock that seems to have, by osmosis, absorbed the roots, Americana, and country flavors associated with her small town upbringing. However, listen to them in interviews and you are as likely to hear talk of Radiohead as you are Woody Guthrie, which is perhaps a sign that geography is not as influential as it once was. With so many traditional (i.e. alt) country artists coming out of California, one certainly can’t deny Oklahoma its indie-rock influences.
With Songs in the Night, the full-length debut following last year’s The Confiscation EP, Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers recorded eleven tracks in five days with producer Danny Kadar. It is a debut that feels comfortable. In fact, while the potential obviously lurking around the corner can leave one wanting, its natural sound speaks to endless nights on the road honing their craft.
Particularly appealing throughout Songs in the Night is Samantha Crain’s delivery, which makes one imagine a Neil Young/Bjork lovechild. The album bursts with heartfelt songwriting, natural charisma, and elusive enunciation. This effect is no doubt a byproduct of the group recording live in studio, a choice that really captures their energy. Flanked strongly by the Midnight Shivers’ ideal infusion of electric guitar Crain presents a first-rate follow-up, one that should invite new fans but still satisfy followers of the group.
Opening with “Rising Sun,” perhaps the most radio friendly tr
ack on the album, we are treated to precisely crafted hook that, if the world was fair, would earn it plenty college radio time. Other noteable songs include “You Never Know,” with its southern rock inspired opening; the rhythmic “Long Division” and “Scissor Tales” with their significant country influence; and the indie-rock “Bullfight,” a song that could help shed the folk label they sometimes chafe against. Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers shine brightest on “Dam Song,” delivering a song that, while lacking the instant gratification of other cuts on the album, adds depth to Songs in the Night and is reminiscent of The Be Good Tanyas.
While none of these songs are purely country, there is a lot to enjoy for those who lean towards country, southern rock, and folk music. Authenticity is a common term thrown around in country and folk music circles, and it is no doubt that Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers have it in spades.