If you’re already familiar with her work, then Samantha Crain’s fourth album doesn’t offer up many surprises. Instead it doubles down on the groundwork laid on her third effort, ‘Kid Face’, refining that sound into even more delicate slices of folk and Americana. An often maudlin affair, it’s testament to her abilities that ‘Under Branch & Thorn & Tree’ rarely feels dour, despite the minor chords and inherent sadness of her subject matter. The shimmer of strings, restrained percussion and heavy fretting of acoustic guitars swaddle her vocal in richly subtle production, allowing the simplicity of her lyrics to shine.

Crain offers up distant glimmers of hope through the gloom, whether she’s lamenting death (‘You Or The Mystery’), lost love (‘When You Come Back’) or the ephemeral nature of life (on the utterly entrancing ‘Elk City’). It’s the singer from Oklahoma’s best release to date and makes you thankful for heartache and despair, because if we didn’t have as much, she might not produce quite so many beautiful songs.


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