Blues Bytes


August 2017

Samantha Fish
Chills & Fever
Ruf Records

Samantha Fish

Samantha Fish has become a star over the past few years, and for good reason. She’s an excellent guitarist and fine singer. Forget everything you think you know about her, though. Chills & Fever (Ruf Records) is a pretty big departure from past releases. This is not the blues shredding Samantha Fish. This is the rock 'n' roll loving Samantha, and it’s very impressive.

The opening “He Did It” sets the tone nicely. A subtle rocker with horns (“He used me/and then he accused me/let me tell you I don’t have to stand that kind of guy/and I don’t have to state the reasons why.”) followed by understated guitar. The title cut is a bit of a rock and roll samba, sorta like the groove from I’ve got a feeling someone is trying to steal my man. She sings with a slinky sultriness, and sounds almost strangely like Amy Winehouse.

One of the many surprises here is her gorgeous take on the old Barbara Lewis number, “Hello Stranger.” Her version is true to the original and her singing is a treat. Ditto her take on “Hurt’s All Gone.” No author credits are listed. This sounds very sixties, maybe Dusty Springfield?

The album is a nice mix with plenty of stunning ballads and totally perfect vocals. Her guitar is downplayed but impressive. The second guitarist Joe Mazzola, bassist Steve Mawara and Kenny Tudrick’s drums are the core band. Add pianist Bob Mervack and the great big horn section of trumpeter Mark Levron and saxophonist Travis Blotsky, and the band sounds as good as any session band from the sixties.

“Little Baby” is uptempo and “Nearer To You” is a sorrowful ballad. Just to remind us who she is Fish does a shredding version of “Crow Jane.” On “Somebody’s Always Trying,” she sings in a sassy tone, “Somebody’s always talkin’ about the way he talks/somebody’s always talkin’ about the way he walks/ …somebody’s always trying to take my baby away.” This is mixed with an infectious beat and a rockin’ guitar.

Every one of the 14 songs here is a keeper. This shows off Samantha’s vocals, which are estimable, over her guitar. The end result is highly recommended album.

--- Mark E. Gallo



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