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Samantha Crain

Shivers in the Night – 2009 (Ramseur)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Samantha Crain

Long before the release of last year's excellent "The Confiscation" EP, Samantha Crain had already established herself as a legitimate talent with a string of raw but impressive demos. "The Confiscation" merely put Crain's gifts in a little higher relief, and showed the Oklahoma native/full blooded to be more than worthy of the hype being slung in her direction. With a sound that hinted at Feist (or even Erika Wennerstrom) playing Victor Frankenstein with the limbs of Wilco, the torso of Woody Guthrie and the brain of Bob Dylan, Crain's only sin on "The Confiscation" was brevity.

On her debut full length, Crain and her skilled backing band, the Midnight Shivers, at least slightly expand the size and the scope of "The Confiscation." Rising Sun lopes along on a pleasant folk/pop groove, as does Long Division, albeit with a hint of Van Dyke Parks' arrangement style. Calm Down betrays a hint of Waitsian balladeering while Scissor Tales updates Woody's Dust Bowl classicism and Bullfight (Change Your Mind) combines roots pop churn with surf guitar vigor.

Like "The Confiscation," Crain's throaty rasp and hitchy delivery provide just the right amount of quirk to "Songs in the Night," and the Midnight Shivers conjure up a Band-like tapestry of contemporary timelessness.