Over the course of her career as an award-winning artist, singer/songwriter/guitarist Samantha Fish has brought extraordinary power to her self-expression, capturing her inner world in combustible riffs, visceral rhythms, and spine-tingling vocal work. On her new album Faster, she joins forces with superproducer Martin Kierszenbaum (Lady Gaga, Sting) and imbues even more intensity into her electrifying brand of blues/rock-and-roll. With Fish accompanied by legendary drummer Josh Freese (Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails, The Replacements) and bassist Diego Navaira of The Last Bandoleros, the result is a singular body of work both irresistibly galvanizing and emotionally raw.
The follow-up to 2019’s Kill or Be Kind (Fish’s Rounder Records debut), Faster came to life at the famed Village Studios in Los Angeles, where she and Kierszenbaum uncovered new possibilities in her captivating sound. “Kansas City played a major part in bringing us together: I was born and raised in KC and Martin has some familial ties. Shortly after being introduced last year, we had a conversation about making an album,” she recalls. “His track record was perfect for what I wanted to do with this album, which was to expand into different genres while retaining the roots I’d built in the blues world.” Revealing her affinity for North Mississippi blues heroes like R.L. Burnside and wildly inventive iconoclasts like Prince, the album ultimately embodies an unbridled energy true to its emotional core. “The whole record has a theme of taking charge and taking the reins, in a relationship or in life in general,” says Fish. “I really thought that after 2020 I’d end up with a really dismal, bleak album, but instead, we came up with something that’s fun and sexy and so empowering.”
Throughout Faster, Fish threads her songwriting with the kind of nuanced storytelling and ultra vivid detail that comes from carefully honing her craft. “Because we usually tour so much, most of my albums have been written in hotels between shows,” she says. “This was the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity to just sit in one place, and pour everything that was happening around me into songs.” Growing up in Missouri, Fish first found her love of songwriting in her late teens, mining inspiration from the likes of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. Having taken up guitar at age 15, she soon began seeking out gigs by cold-calling countless local bars. “I used to open the phone book and call up every place in Kansas City, even if they didn’t have live shows,” she remembers. “I had maybe a three percent success rate, but eventually I started filling up my calendar—if you put on a good enough show, word of mouth gets around.” Over the years, Fish has maintained her reputation as a phenomenal live act and repeatedly turned out critically acclaimed albums, in addition to earning an ever-growing number of accolades.
For Fish, one of the greatest joys of making music is the powerful exchange of energy at her incendiary live shows. “I fell in love with music from going to shows, and I know how cathartic it can be. It heals your heart,” she says. “Anytime I play live, I just want to want to make people forget about everything else in the world and feel that same joy that I feel on stage.” And in the process of creating Faster, Fish experienced a similar exhilaration—a sustained head rush that’s entirely palpable in every track on the album. “There’s such a transformation that can happen in the studio when you really own that freedom to be creative,” she says. “I feel so charged up in those moments, like I can be whoever I want to be. It’s just me and these incredible musicians trying to make a piece of art that speaks for itself and contributes something new to the world. It’s never hard to feel inspired or empowered when that’s the mission.”