Published Jul 26, 2013After releasing her excellent debut Tough Cookie in 2011, many have wondered when Calgary-based songstress Samantha Savage Smith would release a proper sophomore effort. Earlier this week, she shared new track "Kids in the Basement," and now she tells us that the new album is complete.
"I just finished it today!" she told Exclaim! earlier this week. "I mean, there is still mastering and all that kind of stuff, but the sounds are all in the right place."
As for more firm details, she's not too sure. "No set release date as of yet, but I'm pretty sure it will be out this year," she says. "And about the title... I'm so indecisive about naming things. I actually kind of hate it. So I'll probably decide on the title for sure the day it gets sent off for mastering."
Like her first release, the album was recorded with longtime friend and collaborator Lorrie Matheson. This time, however, she took on a more prominent role.
"The funny thing about that, though, is the fact it was recorded in the same space with the same people, we went about it quite differently," she explains. "It didn't feel at all like it did the first time. I have a pretty heavy hand on this one. [Drummer Chris] Dadge also helped a lot too. We started tracking demos in our basement and writing and figuring out most the parts before we went in. I feel much closer to this one. So if people hate it, I can't blame anyone but myself. It's my fault."
Dadge and bassist Henry Hsieh also play in the Calgary indie rock institution Lab Coast, who recently released the new full-length Walking on AYR, with Smith joining the group as a full-time member. That has also changed the way Smith looks at her own songwriting.
"It's been interesting to learn and wrap my head around someone else's songwriting," she explains. "I mean, I have my own personal way of writing my songs but didn't really recognize that until I started playing someone else's tunes. At first I had a bit of a time getting my head around certain changes and things like that. Like a chorus would always just sneak up on me, it's like their songs were saying, 'Surprise! There's more to this songwriting thing!'"
The second band has also helped her hone her craft as a live guitarist. "I suppose performance-wise, it made me a little less reserved as a guitar player, I've stepped up on my own playing at my shows and even when i write songs. I'm all like 'Shit yeah! I can friggin' do that thing now.'"
According to Smith, her new solo album is quite an evolution from Tough Cookie.
"I'm a different person now, so my songs are different," she says. "I have different tastes, and have new and higher standards for myself as a songwriter. Even the process is kind of different — back then I wrote those songs by myself and only ever showed my roommate... It was essentially the byproduct of being a sheltered and somewhat shy person when it came to music. Now I have this big family of music people who are constantly around to share their ideas with me, as well as criticisms."
Ultimately, those criticisms have paid off. "I've become more confident in the songs I write. I know it can't be for everyone, but the most important thing is that I like them. It sucks to have to play songs that you hate.... I do understand that maybe some who were fans of the first might be a little thrown by this one. But either way, I'm more then ready to showcase the new stuff."
Though she built quite a name for herself with Tough Cookie, Smith is keeping her expectations realistic when it comes to LP number two.
"From my very first day in the studio to now, I'm just grateful I get to do it at all," she says. "Writing and playing music is seriously the most fun thing to do in the world, that and waterslides. I guess I kind of already sort of achieved what I wanted to accomplish... I wrote, recorded, and finished the album. The rest is gravy."
Stay tuned for more information on the new Samantha Savage Smith LP as it becomes available. In the meantime, check out new track "Kids in the Basement" below. As previously reported, she also has a string of upcoming Canadian tour dates, which can be viewed below.
7/26 Edmonton, AB - Wunderbar *
8/5 Vancouver, BC - The Cobalt *
8/6 Victoria, BC - The Copper Owl *
8/8 Revelstoke, BC - The Last Drop *
* with Lab Coast