So, this is not an official review, because I usually need a year or more to process things that make my heart swell or the hairs on the back of my neck stand up or tears form without logical reason (I’m a slow, slow burn on things I love). But I keep wanting to tell everybody about Samantha Crain’s real good, new record, Songs In The Night. Her band is The Midnight Shivers, and her songs are about as perfect as songs get: singable and dark enough, absent of sentimentality, but full of the force of emotion that makes being human so nice and terrible and worthy of documentation—sound-wise and word-wise.
Some of the songs are dance-able (I mean, 2-steppable), which is something that an Oklahoma native should aim for (seems to me), which Samantha is. But they’re all so listenable, some of them heartbreakingly so—like things that should be put in a box and buried in the ground because they are too tender to be remembered actively and regularly. But she holds them out under our noses, polished and gleaming.
I love these songs. I love this singer and her phrasng and her diction (she made up her own accent, I think) and the arrangements. There’s a real, bona fide rock song in the collection (more than one if you expand the definition, which we probably should do). Lots of alt and mad lady country. And more than a few dirges, but they won’t bring you down because that’s not what dirges are for.
My favorite (right now) is The Dam Song. It’s a prayer for destruction and the toppling of all the mundane meanness of a life that hasn’t panned out quite right, but she could be singing la la la and we’d catch it: the heartache, the regret, the wish-it-could-have-been-different. The self-conscious, self-pity is all over the melody and super-slow 2 and 4 on the snare, the apologetic acoustic guitar, the sidekick harmonies, the slung-about harmonica and over-confident electric guitar. It’s a play. The instruments are beaten-up, misdirected characters and their shoulders are bowed, but everybody’s still kicking and kicking.
Samantha’s worth checking out. Great singer, songs, lyrics, arrangments, recordings, live show. She and the band tour a ton, so odds are that they’re coming close to everybody within the next little while.
“Everything in the world began with a yes. One molecule said yes to another molecule and life was born. But before prehistory there was the prehistory of prehistory and there was the never and there was the yes. It was ever so. I do not know why, but I do know that the universe never began.”—Clarice Lispector. The Hour of a Star. (via damadesign)
“…in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it”—Herbert Simon, on the “attention economy”
But what precisely was invented that day? Not a chemical - the mysterious substance … turned out to be simply ether, a volatile solvent that had been in common use for decades. And not the idea of anesthesia….
What the great moment in the Ether Dome really marked was something less tangible but far more significant: a huge cultural shift in the idea of pain.
“Genius is no more than childhood recaptured at will, childhood equipped now with man’s physical means to express itself, and with the analytical mind that enables it to bring order into the sum of experience, involuntarily amassed.”—Baudelaire