Restlessness is a torment best faced with a smile. Thus is the lesson proffered by Samantha Crain, the Oklahoma-based Americanarian whose spirited sermon resonated through the Gramophone Tuesday night. “I feel like I lived here at some point,” she said with a sly grin. “I probably did.”
The lively evening celebrated the release of Ms. Crain’s new album, Kid Face, the latest roadmap to the feisty folksinger’s unending quest to find a muse that will help her escape her hometown. Graciously treating the packed crowd to several of her new tunes, Ms. Crain’s wondrously commanding voice rose up over the band’s Wurlitzer keys and cigar-box guitar as she left no rootsy cornerstone unturned.
Highlights abounded, from the sweepingly beautiful title track from Kid Face to the Frisco-jam “Equinox” to the fervent “Devils in Boston.” Ms. Crain explained how the latter is actually a geographical misnomer—New York City is even too large syllabically—and song after song, she proved herself the latest in the Sooner State’s long tradition of wordsmithery. “I’m almost young this year, now that I’m older,” she crooned in the dusty blues-infused “Paint.” Somewhere, Woody nods.
Earlier in the night, reclusive St. Louisian Joe Andert made a rare appearance as the crowd warmed up beneath Indian Blanket’s masterfully woven aural tapestry. Layered strings, each with its own purpose, entwined in plateaus of anticipation until the band allowed itself resolution, always in an unexpected direction. Andert displayed a sharp folksinger’s ear for entering each song just before the audience expected it and then turning the rhythm on its head once they caught up with him. Indian Blanket flaunted boundless creativity throughout in a set that culminated fittingly in a cover of “Moonshiner,” the woefully wily lament penned by one of Woody’s best students.