Linsey Baker She may be pint-sized but Calgary's own Samantha Savage Smith…
- Posted on Jun 18th 2011 3:45PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Either Samantha Savage Smith's parents bestowed the ideal handle upon the Calgary singer-songwriter at birth, or she's come up with a rather apt stage name, because the pint-sized 24-year-old is about to shake up the music scene once her preternaturally accomplished debut album, 'Tough Cookie,' is released this fall.
After building buzz in the fertile Calgary indie scene over the past two years for her guitar dexterity and sharp songwriting, Smith caught the attention of local producer Lorrie Matheson (Rae Spoon, Ghostkeeper), who took her under his wing to record her debut, which the Calgary Herald praised as "one of the finest, most honest and absorbing releases you'll hear this or any other year."
And it's easy to see why -- drawing on a smart mix of influences ranging from classic chanteuses like Billie Holiday and Anita O'Day to present-day songsmiths like St. Vincent and the Black Keys, Smith's own sound nimbly covers a wide stylistic ground, touching on blues and jazz while rooted in a modern indie-rock template.
First single 'The Fight' offers a taste of her stripped-down approach, opening with a few bars of a stark, bare-boned electric guitar strum that only hints at Smith's prowess with a big, chunky guitar riff. Those virtuoso stylings follow in short order as the melodies amp up, taking the tune from a typically sweet girl-with-guitar ballad to something more akin to Land of Talk's gritty-but-pretty urban alt-rock numbers.
In fact, while Smith's distinctively coy vocals on 'The Fight' initially bring to mind other demure songstresses like Jenn Grant, by the time she lets her voice soar on the chorus, a more appropriate reference point might just be Land of Talk's Liz Powell.
And while it's all too easy to saddle new artists with a heap of comparisons, it's clear Smith has a songwriting voice all her own: "Teach me how to pine again/When can you be mine again?/I will spend the night," she sings to close 'The Fight.' Talk about an emotional wallop.
Download: Samantha Savage Smith, 'The Fight' (MP3)
NXNE sets: Samantha Savage Smith plays the TMKO showcase at the Rivoli on June 17 at 1AM, the Order of Good Cheer mixer at the Drake Sky Yard on June 18 at 3PM, and wraps up with a final performance at the Drake Hotel on June 18 at 9PM.