Sounds Like: The intersection of coffee-shop folk and juke-joint blues, performed in a sophisticated jazz club
For Fans of: Rhiannon Giddens, Muddy Magnolias, Amy Winehouse
Why You Should Pay Attention: Raised in Kansas City by a father who played guitar and a mother who sang in the church choir, Samantha Fish was steeped in roots music from a young age. Learning the drums and later guitar, she cut her teeth playing local blues jams, where she developed a reputation as a serious blues guitarist. Her second solo LP, Wild Heart, topped Billboard‘s blues chart in 2015, and this year Fish released a pair of albums showcasing different sides of her talents, beginning with Chills & Fever, a covers collection of obscure R&B. Earlier this month, she dropped Belle of the West, which reunited her with Wild Heart producer Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars. Like that album, it debuted at Number One on the blues chart
She Says: “It doesn’t really cross my mind to try to make something contemporary. I think when you find yourself in something, that’s what makes it contemporary. [With Belle of the West,] I feel like these are the best songs I’ve written, but it’s just my most personal album. I wanted to put the guitar hero thing down for a second and I wanted to let other things shine. It’s sort of like it was with Chills & Fever, but this album is about the songwriting and vocals and instrumentation. The guitar’s still there, but we pushed other things up to the forefront.”
Hear for Yourself: “Belle of the West” evokes the painted skies of the American southwest with subtle Spanish guitar and Fish’s yearning vocal. J.G.