Samantha Crain’s album A Small Death is included in NPR‘s “50 Best Albums of 2020”.
“I can’t say the things I need to,” Samantha Crain frets during “Echo,” the opening track of her song cycle, A Small Death. In fact, that song and the 10 that follow it are works of stunning poetic economy and clarity. The Oklahoma-based Choctaw singer-songwriter offers impossibly perceptive vignettes of shedding toxic friendship (“Constructive Eviction”), the mutual embarrassment of high school reunions (“Reunion”), the strangeness of receding memory (“Joey”) and the perverse valor of children trying to be what they think adults require (“Tough For You”). That’s all the more striking considering that Crain started the writing process during a pre-COVID period of profound disruption; a series of car accidents had aggravated a nerve injury and left her without use of her hands. Crain worked her way back to functionality and produced the album herself, arriving at beguiling arrangements, sculpted with woodwinds, horns, synthesizers, piano, pedal steel and tape loops, without ever allowing herself the easy out of a guitar solo. —Jewly Hight (WNXP 91.ONE)