Samantha Fish follows her Blues Music Award-winning debut Runaway with the spirited, energetic, contemporary blues-rock of Black Wind Howlin'. Her gifts as a vocalist and guitarist were evident on her debut and they are even stronger this second time out but the real leap forward is in the songwriting. Runaway had excellent songs but also a bit of filler. The material on Black Wind Howlin' is far more consistent lyrically as well as in their construction.
She kicks off the set with "Miles To Go," which is yet another song about a musician's life on the road. It's a tired topic but there's nothing tired about the song. Many of these "road" songs are laments but "Miles To Go" is high octane, sung by a young artist burning to put miles behind her and get to that next show.
"Heartbreaker" and "Lay It Down (Saturday Night)" are built around gritty, grinding, snarling riffs that may rock a little too hard for blues purists but work well for Fish and her songs, providing the kind of foundation that allows her to swing and play with a natural swagger. She shows off her skills with a slide on "Lay It Down," displaying a style that evokes the memory of J.B. Hutto while the lead work on "Heartbreaker" is tangy and stinging. The title track is another showcase for her impressive playing.
"Kick Around," the acoustic "All Over You," and "Foolin' Me" have a touch of pop songcraft, sturdy rock tunes with the right mix of grit and polish for radio. "Kick Around" has a Georgia Satellites feel to to it but Fish makes the song her own with a great bit of harmony vocal from producer Mike Zito. "All Over You" isn't a pure ballad but the acoustic strums and slower tempo provides a change of tempo and texture and allows Fish to show off her impressive and still improving vocal chops.
Samantha Fish is no longer one to watch; she has arrived. Black Wind Howlin' an assured, confident record from an artist who is still developing but has a strong sense of her strengths. It is also fiery and a hell of a lot of fun. Blues fans who aren't afraid to rock and rock fans who like some sting and swagger need look no further than this.