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Kashena Sampson

Wild Heart – 2017 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Kashena Sampson

The debut release from Las Vegas native and currently Nashville-based singer/songwriter Kashena Sampson is a mix of country, folk, rock and blues driven by Sampson's powerful vocals. The strongest country tunes are "Don't Sit Too Well," a tale of a relationship gone sour ("Heard you been real busy undermining my good name/Claiming that I done you wrong and I should be ashamed") in the mode of Loretta Lynn, and the semi-autobiographical "Greasy Spoon," detailing the singer's journey which included a waitress stint ("So I got me a job at a Ma and Pa's, just a mile or so up the road/Serving grits and biscuits, best in Nashville I've been told").

The influence of 70's rocker Stevie Nicks is evident on several tracks, including the tale of transient love "Hold Me Close" ("We both know you're only passing through/On your way back home to her") and "She Shines," which examines a failed relationship seemingly doomed by unrealistic expectations ("Was she not the woman you envisioned her to be?"). Elsewhere the bluesy "It's A Long Way" and "Never Give Up" have touches of Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin.

Sampson's most passionate vocals come on the title track which reveals feelings of vulnerability ("It's a fragile state I'm in/Put my trust in love again"), as well as the traditional spiritual "Motherless Child." Of the nine originals three were co-written with sister Jolena Sampson, including the closing ballad "Come Back To Me."

Sampson's vocals are nicely supported throughout by Jeremy Fetzer (guitar), John Radford (drums), Elizabeth Estes (violin), Erin Raye (background vocals) and most prominently recording engineer Jon Estes (bass, keyboards, cello, mandolin, pedal steel). With Sampson's compelling vocals and strong compositions "Wild Heart" is a promising intro.