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Thursday, October 30, 2014

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Samantha Harlow
With nearly a decade behind a Nashville honky tonk bar and countless nights playing solo shows on the road under her belt, Samantha Harlow has plenty of stories to tell. A true raconteur, Harlow's storytelling is marked by mild exaggerations, tongue-in-cheek declarations, and sweeping truths about being a strong woman making her way in the world.
Backed by a steel guitar and twangy riffs, Harlow shares tales of heartbreaks past and present - and, more importantly, her resolve to move past them. She's a country artist, to be sure, but not in the folksy, teary-eyed connotation of the title. Fueled by strong and pragmatic Midwestern roots, Harlow's lyrics are equal parts heartbreak and pulling oneself up by the straps on a pair of boots. Previous albums (Boxcars and Other Obsolete Dreams, Love Letters) have detailed her childhood memories of broken family bonds and lofty dreams torn down by the reality of divorce and blue-collar woes. But on her latest cut (Give and Take), Harlow turns over a new leaf - both lyrically and musically. With a faster tempo driven by an electric guitar, songs like 'Kerosene' and 'The Way It Goes' are more about moving on from disappointment than they are about heartbreak itself.
Inspired by spending several months on the road in 2012 and 2013, Harlow isn't dwelling on broken dreams any longer. On Give and Take, the country singer has started dreaming up new goals and moving forward one step at a time.
"2012 began some big changes in my life, and the music that I wrote around that time is a reflection of that. Lots of growth, both comfortable and uncomfortable," she adds. "Now that I'm on the other side, I can tell that I needed it. That's the beauty of being both creative and pragmatic. Everything can be repurposed and used for something better. Even shitty feelings."
In the past, Harlow has verged on letting her heartache define herself as a songwriter and musician. But this time around, the Minnesota native turned to producer Dave Coleman, her band members (Mike Shannon, Sam LoCascio, Wes Burkhart, and Simon Roper), and Nashville talents Max Griffin and Eamon McLaughlin to put a new spin on her most recent life lessons. This level of teamwork resulted in definitive country songs like 'Shame on Me' and 'Carry Me Away.' Give and Take offers up the kind of sound and poignant lyrics that keep true country fans spinning classics like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, and newcomer Kacey Musgraves. Just add Harlow to the list.
"I am blessed enough to have some of the best up-and-coming musicians in Nashville rehearsing with me every week. Week in, week out; in lean times and in flush," Harlow says. "What amazes me most is how different we all are, in both taste and personality. But when we come together as a unit it's nothing less than pure magic. They hear things in the songs that I don't, and they make me comfortable enough to let them take what I began and guide it on to completion. Then it becomes ours. This album is ours."

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