CD Review Samantha Hooey - After The Fire

When London’s Samantha Hooey did an impromptu duet with ex-Posies/REM/Big Star legend Ken Stringfellow at Call The Office a few months back, something rather startling happened. A deep hush fell over the room as Hooey’s gentle, sultry crooning entranced Stringfellow and the rapt audience. It was a musical moment as memorable as it was unexpected.

That wispy intimacy (think a younger, tentative Dusty Springfield) is key to what makes After The Fire such a stunner. Hooey’s hushed intimacy is so entrancing that one leans in to the songs and the performances. And while there is no shortage of singers attempting the same to precious and cloying affect, Hooey never once succumbs to such artifice. She is really that good.

And so it goes throughout the eleven songs here, all written by Hooey. The supportive production by Hooey with Michael Saracino doesn’t rely on her vocals to do all the work, however. The performances and support by her band and others (the strings on the melancholic Paper Wings are superb) are energetic and expansive but never overwhelm Hooey’s vocals which quietly anchor all the songs.

For the time being, Hooey is one of London’s more underrated talents although After The Fire gives plenty of evidence that may be a temporary thing. Here’s hoping.

Rating: A-

(After The Fire is available at Grooves Music on Clarence Street and will be available on iTunes and Bandcamp in July.)

Bob Klanac is a London based music journalist who's penned hundreds of features and reviews, sat on a Juno Awards jury, and is currently a member of the Polaris Music Prize jury.


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