"The River" from the album The Confiscation: A Musical Novella
A Native American of Choctaw descent, singer/songwriter Samantha Crain, 21, is a remarkable talent — seemingly vulnerable and shy, but ultimately powerful, confident, and spirited. Based in Shawnee, Okla., she recently signed to the N.C.-based indie label Ramseur Records. The label plans to re-release Crain's latest effort, The Confiscation EP, in July, replete with elegant cover art and a new subtitle: A Musical Novella.
"I wrote these five songs specifically to be part of a short story collection," Crain says of the disc. "Eventually, I turned them into songs ... compacted versions of the stories. They needed to hold together. Even though the stories are different — and who's telling them is different — there are themes of redemption and betrayal."
It's an impressive little stack of shadowy acoustic pop anthems and twangy ballads — slow-rolling, dynamic, and subtle. Working from a blend of traditional folk song arrangements, contemporary orchestral pop ideas, echo-y instruments, and an effectively strong singing style, The Confiscation is quite moving. Sometimes morose, sometimes joyful, Crain's songs meander naturally from mood to mood.
Currently, her band includes drummer Jacob Edwards, bassist Andrew Tanz, and multi-instrumentalist Nate Henricks.
"I recorded The Confiscation before I actually started touring and recording with these guys," Crain says. "On the EP, I had friends near Greenville, Ill., help out with tracks. When I first got together with the guys from the Midnight Shivers, we tried to make things sound as much like the recording as possible. As we played, we realized we needed to add more elements."
They might surprise some with an unexpectedly solid live delivery. "Our live show is maybe a little more brash than what's on the EP," Crain says. "It has an edge, but the songs still hold their sound."
Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers perform at the Village Tavern (1055 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., 843-884-6311) on Tues. June 10 at 10 p.m. Cover is $5. Visit www.myspace.com/samanthacrain.