NEW STUDIO ALBUM “KILL OR BE KIND”
RELEASED FRIDAY 20TH SEPTEMBER ON ROUNDER RECORDS
DISTRIBUTED BY PROPER MUSIC IN THE UK
PRE-ORDER THE ALBUM WORLDWIDE
Genre-bending guitarist, singer, and songwriter Samantha Fish will release her new studio album Kill Or Be Kind on Friday 20th September 2019 on Rounder Records and distributed in the UK by Proper Music. Pre-order the album worldwide via https://found.ee/SFBulletproof
Fish’s incendiary live performances have been mesmerizing audiences all over the globe. Now, with Kill Or Be Kind, Fish is poised for a major breakthrough. The edgy roots music album was recorded at Royal Studios in Memphis and produced by three-time Grammy winner Scott Billingtonand mixed by two-time Grammy winner Steve Reynolds. Boasting 11 original songs ranging from the electric cigar box stomp of “Bulletproof” to the sweet Memphis R&B of “Trying Not To Fall in Love With You”, the album is sure to establish Fish as a potent force in roots music.
The Kansas City-born-and-bred musician flirts with tradition but pushes genre boundaries to create a sound that’s distinctly her own: “She Don’t Live Here Anymore”, co-written by Parker Millsap, features a Memphis soul underpinning with a sustained vibrato guitar sound that edges toward country. “Love Your Lies” persuasively straddles punk, rockabilly, and soul; while “You Got It Bad (Better Than You Ever Had)” is a classic blues rocker, thick with layered guitars and a cigar box solo. She shows off her range with the sweetly wistful “Dream Girl” and the cathartic, blues saturated “Farewell My Fair Weather”.
“That was my mission on this album: To really set these songs up so that they have a life of their own,” says Samantha Fish about Kill or Be Kind, her sixth solo album and her debut on Rounder Records. “Strong messages from the heart – that’s what I really set out for.” Indeed, what comes across immediately on hearing the album is the extraordinary level of songcraft on its eleven tracks, the way these songs are so smartly put together to deliver a potent emotional impact.
Anyone who has ever heard Fish’s previous albums knows that she has earned a place in the top rank of contemporary blues guitarists and that her voice can wring the soul out of a ballad and belt out a rocker with roof-shaking force. And, rest reassured, those virtues are fully in evidence on Kill or Be Kind. But each of the songs on the album does far more than simply provide a setting for Fish’s pyrotechnics. They tell captivating stories, set up by verses that deftly set the scene, choruses that lift with real feeling, and hooks that later rise up in your thoughts, even when you’re not aware that you’re thinking of music at all. It’s the kind of songwriting that emerges when raw talent is leavened by experience and aspiration, and when a committed artist genuinely has something to say. Those qualities make Kill or Be Kind a genuine artistic breakthrough for Fish.
“I think I’ve grown as a performer and as a player,” she explains. “I’ve become more respectful of the melody. You can go up and down the fret board and up and down your vocal register, but that’s not going to be as powerful as conveying a simple melody that people can really connect to and sing themselves.”
Photo Credit: © Laurence Harvey
To help bring those elements to her music, Fish sought out high-quality songwriting collaborators – the likes of Jim McCormick (who has worked with Fish before and also written for Luke Bryan and Keith Urban); Kate Pearlman (who has worked with Kelly Clarkson); Patrick Sweeney; Parker Millsap; and Eric McFadden. The result is an album on which each song is distinct, but the complete work hangs together as a coherent, entirely satisfying statement. “When you get to this point in your life as an artist,” Fish says, “it’s good to work with others, because it makes you stretch. I think you hear a lot of that nuance on the record, songs that have a pop sensibility to them, hooks that really pull you in.”
To make Kill or Be Kind, Fish chose to work at the legendary Royal Studios in Memphis, with Scott Billington as producer. “I worked at Royal before, when I made my Wild Heart album,” she says. “The soul in the walls, the vibe – you can feel it in that place. I’m such a fan of Al Green, Ann Peebles and all the classic recordings that happened there. Memphis just kept calling to me. I’ve always felt so inspired there.” As for Billington, a three-time Grammy winner, Fish appreciated both his open-mindedness and his willingness to ease her out of her comfort zone. “Scott allowed me to see the building-out process of the album all the way through, from the top to the bottom,” she says. “Bringing in background singers and synthesizers, which I’d never done on an album before, that added an extra edge. Honestly, it was a challenge. It pushed me to think about the songs differently. That trust from my producer gave me the freedom to really take some risks.”
ALBUM TRACK BY TRACK
BY SAMANTHA FISH
You get a good sense of the range the album covers from the first two songs released. Fish propels “Watch It Die” with an insistent guitar riff, but near the song’s end two female background singers lend the song a haunting soulful feel.
Meanwhile, “Love Letters” moves on an insinuating, stop-time riff in its verses until it bursts in passion on its chorus. Both songs use horn sections for finesse and texture. “Love Letters” also introduces one of the album’s central themes: the allure of losing yourself in love – and the dangers of it. “Keep waking up in the bed I made,” Fish sings. “Forget the pain when you wanna play/I’m back to broken when you go away.”
“That’s just a love-sick song,” Fish says, laughing. “like I think I was when I wrote it. ” The title track “Kill or Be Kind”, a seductive ballad, offers a lover a stark choice: “Make up your mind/I can kill or be kind.” To explain that dichotomy, Fish says, “It’s funny how love can be so fickle, how quickly you go from object of affection to one of disdain. I’ve always found that dynamic interesting. That track is full of that duality.”
“I also love the Memphis sound of the horns on there. They sound modern, but it’s got this vintage feeling as well.”
The songs “Dirty,” “Love Your Lies” and “Fair-Weather” explore similar themes – how deceit, self-deception and shifting expectations can alter the course of life and love.
The affecting ballad “Dream Girl” stands the endearment of its title on its head and explores the dilemma of a love not coming to fruition. “I wish you’d take the rest of me,” Fish sings. “These tears, they kill your fantasy.”
On “She Don’t Live Around Here Anymore,” a soul ballad once again bolstered by tasteful horn parts, the singer confronts the feeling of being used and finds empowerment in walking away.
The album is framed by songs — “Bulletproof” and “You Got It Bad (Better Than You Ever Had)”.
“Bulletproof” digs into the theme of vulnerability, about it being mistaken for weakness, and how we often times feel the need to wear a mask to survive in the world today, while “You Got It Bad (Better Than You Ever Had)” is about working towards your dreams and the knifes edge we often walk to reach our goals.
“Trying Not to Fall in Love With You” finds the singer not wanting to rush a relationship – and therefore undermine it. “I fall fast,” Fish admits, “I have to remember to take care and not scare the person away.”
Photo Credit: © Michael Emanuele Backstage Flash
Photo Credit: © Michael Emanuele Backstage Flash