[25 July 2008]
The Confiscation starts with a folk harmonica and a guitar. Ah, you think: Dylan. Then as this five-track 20-minute album goes on you realize that while Samantha Crain may have been influenced by Dylan she’s not in thrall to him. My layman here said that she reminded him of Joanna Newsom and I thought of Marissa Nadler, but although Crain has the same storytelling bent and cracked quaver at the edge of the voice that helps to push both of those singers toward the category of New Weird, she doesn’t have their frailty. She doesn’t have Nadler’s fey ghostliness, or Newsom’s little-pixie lisp. Instead she has something firmer and rounded, a mature sound, womanly rather than girlish. This novella-album follows a “theme,” she told the Daily Times of Tennessee: “good vs. evil, redemption vs. betrayal, that sort of thing … sort of why things happen and the reasons bad things happen to people.” The first song has a preacher drowning a man to save his soul and things go on from there. The Confiscation is short but strong, a debut album that seems to promise a solid future career.