“I don’t write protest songs in the traditional sense,” Samantha Crain says, talking about the songs on her new album, Under Branch & Thorn & Tree. “But I’m always listening to the voices of people around me. These stories are told from the perspective of the underdog, the 99% of us that are working people. They might not be literal protest songs, but the lives of the people within these songs speak at the same volume if you listen.”
Samantha Crain’s songs are full of expansive melodies that veer off in unpredictable directions, with lyrics that explore conflicting emotions with uncommon insight and compassion. She has a jazz singer’s phrasing, often breaking words into rhythmic fragments that land before and after the beat, stretching syllables or adding grace notes to uncover hidden nuances in her lyrics.
“Though many of these songs are racked with sadness, their effect is strangely uplifting. The richness of Crain’s voice and the elegant simplicity of the musical arrangements bring drama to these stories. And the striking imagery of her lyrics finds beauty and pathos in the details of downtrodden lives.” — The Guardian
Nick Jaina is a musician and writer from Portland, Oregon. His most recent album, Primary Perception, was released in April 2013 on Fluff and Gravy Records. As the Portland Mercury said, “I’d feel embarrassed describing Nick Jaina as a genius outright, and I’m sure he’d hate that too, but it’s so tempting– because he is so clearly the real deal.”
He is a co-founder and musical director of the Satellite Ballet and Collective in New York City. He has composed the music for three ballets and three contemporary dances with that group, featuring dancers from the New York City Ballet, Ten Hairy Legs, and Juilliard, performing at the Baryshnikov Center and the Joyce Theater. Their most recent performance was two sold-out shows at Brooklyn Academy of Music in May 2014. Of that show, the New York Times wrote, “[The] pure, pungent, earthy music for strings, piano, and percussion… was the most physically bracing part of the night.”
He released his first book, Get It While You Can, a work of non-fiction, through Perfect Day Publishing in January 2015. It is a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Awards.