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July/August 2011

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Samantha Fish
Ruf Records

Samantha FishMaybe it just seems like most of the hottest new guitar players in the blues world are women. In all due respect to the men out there, some of the most exciting blues artists of late include Dana Fuchs, Fiona Boyes, Ana Popovic, Joanna Shaw Taylor, among others.

Add the name of Kansas City native Samantha Fish to that list. Coming off the strength of the excellent Ruf album Girls with Guitars, on which she collaborated with Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde, Ms. Fish has now released her excellent debut solo release, Runaway.

Produced by Mike Zito, Runaway features nine tunes written or co-written by Fish as well as one cover, Tom Petty's "Louisiana Rain." Pretty impressive for a young woman just 22 years old.

Runaway is one of those albums that gets better with repeated listens. The first time through I called it a good album; the second time I listened to it I exclaimed that it was great! I was expecting to be wowed by Ms. Fish's guitar work, but it's her vocal range that pulled me in on the first cut, the rockin' "Down In The Swamp." The title cut, "Runaway," follows, and it's an up-tempo John Lee Hooker-sounding boogie with some smoking guitar licks.

The tone changes on the next number, "Today's My Day," a vintage blues on which Ms. Fish plays mean slide guitar --- a very nice song. Another standout is the snaky shuffling blues "Otherside Of The Bottle."

The album closes very strongly as Ms. Fish shows her versatility on the two final cuts. The aforementioned "Louisiana Rain," a ballad with a little bit of a Cajun feel to it, again showcases Ms. Fish's tasty slide playing. "Feelin' Alright" is something completely different --- a late night, jazzy tune with seductive vocals from Ms. Fish. It's a great nightcap to a satisfying meal of blues.

With Runaway and the Girls with Guitars CD (reviewed in last month's issue) both out this year, Samantha Fish is quickly becoming a major player on the blues scene. I look forward to hearing more.

--- Bill Mitchell


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