Samantha Fish’s new studio album Belle of the West will be released on November 17th, and everyone should get excited. Belle of the West is Fish’s second album of 2017 since Chills & Fever. Chills & Fever fans will appreciate the continued vintage attitude and instrumentation found in this new album, however they will find that Belle of the West offers something more rough and stripped.
Belle of the West is a very visual album. Every song evokes a mental image, be it a memory, a film, or what Samantha Fish might have been doing as she wrote any particular song. The first drum fills of “American Dream” are grounding and give the feel that they are quite literally rooted in American soil. The authentic and unedited conversation on the front and back of the track “Nearing Home” has a the familial feel of home. Take a look at Fish’s website and gallery, and you will see that the sonic and visual atmosphere she creates is very much in sync. She knows who she is, what she likes, and what she wants.
This album is only able to evoke such strong mental images because of the high level of songwriting. Songs are carefully delivered from section to section, each verse and chorus rising and falling in a very satisfying way. Every lyric is well set in its melody, and every rhyme scheme ties together a pair of phrases without being obvious or cheesy. Titles are spotlit masterfully so that at the end of each song, you know exactly what the title was, and yet, it is not too poppy. In almost every song, Fish opts out of what would be a traditional bridge, and replaces it with an instrumental solo. The frequency of which this is done is unusual and even shocking, but also bold and respectable, because it takes a wise songwriter to know that a bridge definitely doesn’t always enhance a song.
The harmonies throughout Belle of the West are notable, because they appear in some way in every song, and offer consistency. These harmonies, while tight and accurate, are also colloquial and organic, inviting the listener to sing along. “Blood in the Water” for example, opens with harmonies that are beautiful, but singable. They return throughout the song to include the audience. They are not overly artificially tuned, and grant the listener an opportunity to witness raw vulnerability.
Both sonically and visually, Samantha Fish has a potent mix of country grit, classic elegance, and cinematic drama in her control. This album has moments of familiarity and warmth found in a Fleetwood Mac album, and even the mystical hazy elements of the 1968 album Nancy & Lee, all while honoring the theme of blues rock. Listeners are certainly in for a treat with Belle of the West, and although there shouldn’t be any pressure, with the rate Fish is turning these albums out, one can only hope for a new one sometime soon.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– American Dream
– Belle of the West
– Blood in the Water
– Need You More
– Nearing Home
The Big Hit
– Nearing Home
Review by Alexandra Veltri