Short of stature and big on voice, the 4’11″ indie-folk singer Samantha Crain has made a name for herself by touring relentlessly since she was still in college and singing engaging songs that highlight her warm singing style. Her forthcoming album, Kid Face, is her most personal to date and songs like the record’s current single, “Never Going Back,” are among her most relatable. With that in mind, here’s five reasons you should know Crain … if you don’t already.
1. She Knows How to Survive on Just Peanut-Butter Crackers
At 26, Crain has been writing music for only about seven or eight years by her estimation. She started playing guitar at 17, but didn’t start writing songs until she was 19. With her path set, she dropped out of college. After that, she says, “I hopped in a 12-passenger Chevy van with a band out of Chicago called Berry and drove around the country. [We] played at coffee shops, played in living rooms, bars, sometimes we played a real show at a venue. We had enough money for a pack of peanut-butter crackers and a cup of coffee and lived like that for a while.” While she’s graduated to more professional venues since then, she still plays the occasional intimate show, like this living room set we found of her playing the song “Ax” from Kid Face.
2. She’s (Kind Of) Inspired by Taylor Swift
“On my other albums, I’ve dabbled in autobiographical writing,” Crain told No Depression. “But if I had tried to write this album two or three years ago, it would have been harder for me.” To wit, she has said that “Never Going Back” is her “kiss off song.” “I’ve been jokingly saying it’s my version of that Taylor Swift song ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,’” she has said. “That song, especially the chorus, turned into this mantra for me of this unhealthy relationship that I kept going back to, revisiting, and spending too much time on…I never really had the guts to write that song before because I’d been dealing with it for so long.”
3. She Does a Mean Version of Neil Young’s “Tell Me Why”
Replacing Ol’ Neil’s nasal whine with her own rich alto, Crain recently tackled the opening cut from Young’s 1970 masterpiece After the Gold Rush. Where the original is a brittle, vulnerable declaration of self-awareness, Crain—who is a year older than Young when he released the song—projects a confidence when singing that she caps off with the word “Cool!” at the end. Cool indeed.
4. She Recently Posed for Over 3,800 Photos For Her Video
To make a video for the Kid Face song “Never Going Back,” Crain and her fiddler posed, sort of, for a series of photos, taken by directors LAMAR+INK, that would make up a flip-book style video for the song. The filmmakers then smartly cut out each visage of the pair, lined them up on the floor, and dominoed the hell out of it. “We felt that taking a simple concept and making it great would be the best way to accentuate the music,” they said. “Although the task was laborious, we’re pretty pleased with the end result.”
5. She Plays Well With Others
Although the songwriting credits on her albums are mostly hers and hers alone, Crain has lent her voice to several songs by other artists recently, including this upbeat rocker by Beau Jennings and some haunting touches to the song “The Lost River,” by her current tourmates, Murder by Death.
Samantha Crain’s Kid Face comes out February 17 via Ramseur Records