Samantha Crain - A Small Death CD

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Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and for Samantha Crain, that’s the reality behind A Small Death. Following the release of her last album in 2017, she was in a series of auto accidents where she lost the use of her hands. She was left considering the possibility she would never be able to hold a guitar again, let alone actually play it. Slowly regaining the use of her hands, she began putting together this new collection of songs.

What emerges is her most personal collection writing, crafted to reflect how her life changed over the past three years. An Echo begins with a simple guitar before horns, strings and pedal steel punctuate the tale of her hard times. “When my hands appeared so useless/ I felt like a little baby/ And my pride evaporated/ Like water in a skillet/ And you softened like some butter.” It’s a rare gift to make the commonplace so incredibly personal.

The saxophone work punctuating Garden Dove treads a fine line, bordering on honking without ever getting there, while the song relates a story of love simply, yet slightly indirectly, “Ride the bus a hundred times for fun/ I’m working hard, my garden dove/ To keep you up and all at once.” Slashing acoustic guitar also punctuates the piece, rocking it rather than softening the edges.

The themes on this album are very personal, befitting a woman who has come through challenges that would be crushing to many. Yet throughout this album, she emerges as a survivor, “I made a record that means more to me than anything I’ve ever made. I produced this myself. I took the time I needed. I made this on my own terms with my own vision, my own dreams, my own nightmares, my own revelations.”

The colours on this album create a special experience. Little Bits has moments of slide guitar that sound like they’re sampled from George Harrison’ songbook. 

If there is a secret to Samantha Crain’s A Small Death it comes from her ability to render the moments of terror after discovering her inability to use her hands and transform them into visions of a future rebuilt and reborn. She comes through disaster not focusing on the past but looking to a brighter future.

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