REVIEW: Samantha Crain “I Guess We Live Here Now” Explores Hometown


We’ve all spent one HELL of a lot of time in and around our homes over the past year or so. While we’ve largely yearned to be somewhere – ANYWHERE – else, some have also taken advantage of the occasion to get to know their surroundings a little better. Oklahoma singer-songwriter Samantha Crain, after years of nearly incessant touring, finally had a moment to explore her hometown of Norman, and it’s the inspiration for her new EP, I Guess We Live Here Now.

The EP begins with “Bloomsday,” which tries to find relevance in a silent world. Backed with piano and subtle steel guitar, the song has folks searching for everyday comforts – “Open up the doors and have a goddamn beer” – while trying to figure out what they ought to be doing – “Everybody’s wondering where their little light is.” Crain then borrows from the gospel tune, “This Little Light of Mine,” to encourage others to shine. The title of the next tune, “There Is No Mail Today,” recalls everyone’s worst kind of pandemic day, but the song, full of fiddle and slightly dreamy synth, is really about that kind of inertia and depression so many of us have lived with over the past 13 months – “All it would take to change/Is a movement of myself to some other place.” Making the choice to change, especially when that change presents very real physical danger, is a huge risk, but Crain argues that the alternative is an even worse choice – “But maybe not to gamble is the greatest wrong.”

“Malachi, Goodbye” is a bit more spare at its outset – percussion and a very lonely-sounding clarinet supplement Crain as she bids goodbye to an unsatisfactory relationship – “I doubt that our conversations stay with me too long/You can go back to your family/I can be alone.” Ouch. But the EP wraps with the singer finding satisfaction in her current place. “Two Sitting Ducks,” with light banjo and a supple string arrangement, finds Crain and her partner stuck in a new town with a broken-down car, but she finds joy in exploring her new surroundings (much as she did in rediscovering her hometown during the pandemic), and she realizes the control she has over her new, unexpected situation – “I’m always free if I’m young in mind and heart.” As Crain and other musicians are slowly able to hit the road again this summer, it’s that kind of fresh approach that will make the times between shows feel a bit more like an adventure.

Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “Malachi, Goodbye.” Hopefully on a hot summer night, because that goodbye is COLD.

I Guess We Live Here Now was produced by Samantha Crain, engineered by Brine Webb and mixed and mastered by Erik Wofford. All songs were written by Crain. Additional musicians on the album include Webb (bass guitar), Paddy Ryan (drums, percussion), Alberto Roubert (percussion), Penny Pitchlynn (bass guitar, vocals), Scott Brackett (synthesizers), Isaac Stalling (electric guitar), Kyle Reid (MPC programming), Collin Ferrell (clarinet), Matt Kelly (strings and string arrangements) and David Jones (banjo).

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