Thursday, 17 May 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Kashena Sampson - Wild Heart : New Moon Records

If this is to be the breakthrough moment for Kashena Sampson then there will be few complaints from many music lovers taking a chance on a new artist. Doors may be opening and helping hands offered, but success ultimately lies in the strength of the product and its ability to make an impact. WILD HEART is perfectly at ease with any slice of actuated hype and is happy to fight its corner in the evolving world of country and Americana music. Fundamentally, this album oozes a classic country sound from each pore and groove. An open door policy to embrace soulful influences boosts the mix, while resistance qualities ensure any impurity attack is repelled from taking hold. The energy, integrity and intensity of the architect rinses through each of the ten tracks, all but one being an original composition.

Not surprisingly, East Nashville is the base where Kashena operates from and the fusion elements of the record spin it on an Americana axis. Fortune sees it get a European focus in the summer of 2018 and it is set to resonate well with a new fan base. The extent to what importance you place on the backstory is down to the individual listener, but a brief insight here squares the circle of an artist pouring every sinew of vocal extraction into a record reverberating with a voice of prime passion. Not quite last chance saloon, but a blessed opportunity seized with great gusto and seismic determination.

Three tracks spearhead this album, though the remainder are far from distant trailers. ‘Greasy Spoon’ is country to the core. It is likely to be autobiographical and explicitly reminiscent of a well-trodden road to stardom, one realistic in its obscurity. Preceding this track in the running order is the fabulously moving ‘It’s a Long Way Back’ where Kashena takes the concept of ‘sing as you mean it’ to its literal conclusion. From the early chimes of ‘this valley I’ve been in’, an air of redemption blasts in and the soulful swirl of country swamps the senses. ‘That Don’t Sit Too Well With Me’ completes the lofty trio with its beat ‘n’ groove tendencies stomping over ground inhabited by a generational lineage from Margo Price to Loretta Lynn.

A previous mention of a solitary non-original reveals as the traditional number ‘Motherless Child’, dating back to slavery times and full of spiritual vigour. Kashena’s version sees her vocal chops emotively exerted and a no mean demonstration of how to deliver a folk song. Bringing the sound back into the realms of modernish times is a dip into the lush countrypolitan vibes of ‘Hold Me Close’. Meanwhile the soul and blues influence never completely falls away as exemplified in ‘Never Give Up’.

At the outset of the record, faint shimmering organ and a decent introductory hook greets the listener in ‘Away From Here’. Title track ‘Wild Heart’ nestles at the core of the album with its waltz-like presence housing the cutting and defining line ‘it’s a fragile state I’m in’. As if to cement an extraordinary vocal domination on the record, ‘She Shines’ experiences a voice explosion mid song after a fairly placid opening. A desire to get the record ultimately sealed falls a little short in closing track ‘Come Back to Me’, despite a willing credit built up in its nine predecessors.

From a backstory laced with sobriety, dreams and a fiercely independent spirit, you know that every inch of space is fought for and this overflows from multiple listens to WILD HEART. Kashena Sampson redefines the term ownership right across this album, even to the extent of releasing it on her own label. This fine exhibition of classic soulful country meets rootsy folk rock carves a significant mark on a landscape still open for artists possessing that much sought after country voice for the modern times.

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