It’s all be leading to this. A string of albums and constant touring, all of which have been met with huge acclaim. This though is surely the crowning achievement in the career thus far of Samantha Fish.
Probably one of the coolest albums you’ll hear all year and without doubt one of the best. ‘Kill or Be Kind’ has just set the bar incredibly high.
Recent single ‘Bulletproof’ kicks off the album and it’s a perfect distillation of where the Kansas City born artist is now, her sound most definitely her own. Honey dripping riffs and singing, it ramps up into a solidly thumping track, the distorted vocals adding an edge and colour in such an individual and inventive way.
There is steel behind the sweetness and the lyrical slide guitar playing will win your heart and hereby lies the sublime chemistry that is captured in this album, a chemistry that is both achingly lovely and yet as hard as nails. It would be wrong to say that this is a wildly schizophrenic release, it most certainly isn’t, it’s actually an album that is a multi-faceted delight that fits perfectly together and is the next evolution of an extraordinary artists career.
Title track ‘Kill or Be Kind’ is full of a soulful, Phillly vibe, brass backing et al, and sees Fish bringing out her naturally rich voice that fans of Amy Winehouse would love. Again, there is the smoothness, but the track also benefits from a dirty guitar solo that shows a real fire in her belly.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEDgMsI7fd8&w=560&h=315]
‘Love Letters’ is big and powerful and ‘Watch it Die’ equally thrills, quality running through the album like lettering through a stick of seaside rock. Another layer emerges in the 60’s pop/soul feel of ‘Try Not to Fall in Love with You’, a track that sounds like Janis Joplin singing for Motown whilst the momentous ‘Fair Weather’ is a beautiful and delicate number highlighting some wonderful intonation and the full character in her vocals.
Anyone who has seen Fish in concert knows that her shows are full of a toughness and raw edge that makes them a visceral experience and ‘Love Your Lies’ is a barnstorming number that is destined to become a live favourite, mixing blues, rock, jazz and soul into an irresistible gumbo, tasty and hot. Next up, the aptly named ‘Dream Girl’ transports you to Louisiana on a hot and steamy day when all you want to do is to kick back and let its chilled part cowgirl, part New Orleans atmosphere wash over you as a salve to the previous track.
‘She Don’t Live Around Here’ also has a mellow feeling and the knowledge that every track on the album is of such high quality drags you out of it’s bewitching spell and will make you smile until your face aches.
The album closes with a bang in ‘Dirty’, a tale of seduction and regret that oozes a dark passion and makes you shiver and closer ‘You Got it Bad’ is brass knuckle tough, a strong and powerful track with sweet vocals and a killer guitar solo.
Things aren’t over just yet as tagged on at the end, bonus tracks of the radio edits of ‘Bulletproof’ and ‘Watch it Die’ are interesting additions, adding extra value to the package and highlighting just how accessible this new material is.
It will certainly be interesting to see just how much of this material makes it into her forthcoming UK tour during February and March 2020 but you can be sure that, with songs this strong in the mix, it will top even the sky high standards of her last jaunt over here.
All in all, ‘Kill or Be Kind’ is a stunning album, showing the development of Samantha Fish into one of the finest artists of her generation and one that you really can’t afford to miss. Utterly indispensable.
Review by Paul Monkhouse