In keeping with the album’s title, Samantha Fish makes an all-out effort to ratchet up the intensity on Faster and it begins right with the front cover. Whereas her last record, Kill Or Be Kind, found the rockin’ blueswoman striking the saucy pose of a blonde bombshell, the main album image here goes way beyond merely suggestive. The music behind the art more or less follows suit, with flashes of Fish’s vivid persona throughout the LP.
Contributing guitar, piano, keyboards, and percussion, Martin Kierszenbaum also produced sessions that run the gamut of style in addition to, not instead of, the crunching guitar and near banshee wail of the title song. Would that more numbers followed suit though because too often the arrangements sound like a balancing act between Samantha’s earthy presence and that of such generic instrumentals rendered by the former collaborator of Lady Gaga and Sting and a rhythm section comprising drummer Josh Freese (Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails, The Replacements) and bassist Diego Navaira (The Last Bandoleros).
Fortunately, Fish is herself so vibrant a character she projects the alternately seductive and sultry persona that reaffirms the intentions at the heart of this album, i.e., reasserting the no-nonsense image of the previous LP to prevent any further pigeonholing of this independent woman artist. With no track exceeding five minutes, and the unity of the musicians compensating for the extraneous mechanical textures of “All Ice No Whiskey,” a sweaty atmosphere pervades Faster, an air Fish’s baby-doll vocal intonations only further emphasize.
But it’s significant she sings it straight and without affectation (except for the refrain) on “Twisted Ambition.” Here’s one instance where synthesizers, et. al., conform with rather than contradict the scenario of the song; accordingly, when the bolts of electric guitar shoot across the stereo spectrum, Samantha Fish has made her point in no uncertain terms. Likewise, acoustic piano personalizes “Hypnotic,” rendering the track more potent than it might otherwise be.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case with “Together Forever” or “Imaginary War.” Both too closely resemble 80’s recording architecture and if it weren’t for the scythe-like cut of electric guitar on the latter, for instance, the tracks would blur together. Yet here, on “Loud,” just when this record seems on the verge of becoming bogged down in antiseptic textures, Samantha warbles tunefully over more chiming piano—at least before the stomping refrain by which the tune lives up to its title (albeit somewhat clumsily).
It’s a tribute to the artist’s projection of her own distinct personality that the cut remains listenable. Participation of rapper/singer/songwriter Tech N9ne on that track only slightly echoes the Fish imprint, as does “Better Be Lonely,” something of a barrel-house blues cum doo-wop number that freshens the momentum of the track progression. In fact, Louder races to a fast finish on the headlong pace of “So-Called Lover”—where practically obscene guitar figures fly around—and “Like A Classic” on which Samantha is more upfront than on any other cut of the dozen here.
At least until “All The Words,” that is. Practically a solo number with only organ and piano present to conjure an intimate tone to match the forthright singing, this is an ideal closing to an album that would benefit from more such stripped-down performances. As such, it renders the LP’s title a word of encouragement for Samantha Fish to maintain much this same elemental approach when she records next.