"To me, this is a natural progression," Samantha notes. "It's a storytelling record by a girl who grew up in the Midwest. It's very personal. I really focused on the song writing and vocals, the melodies and emotion, and on bringing another dimension to what I do. I wasn't interested in shredding on guitar, although we ended up with a few heavier tracks. I love Mississippi Blues; there's something very soulful and very real about that style of music, so this was a chance to immerse myself in that."
Samantha recorded Belle of the West in the relaxed, rural creative atmosphere of the legendary Zebra Ranch Studios in the North Hills of Mississippi with producer Luther Dickinson (of North Mississippi All-Stars fame), with whom she worked on her 2015 album, Wild Heart.
"I wanted to do this acoustic-electric record, and tap into the style and swagger of Mississippi," she states, adding: "Any time you dive into another place, another vibe and a new group of people, you're challenging yourself to grow musically. I felt very at home a Zebra Ranch, and I've known Luther for years, so it was a very comfortable situation. When you're making a record like this, it has to feel natural if you want people to respond to it.''
Growing up in a musical family in Kansas City, Missouri, Samantha became obsessed with music early on, taking up drums before switching to guitar at the age of 15.
"Having these two very different records come out back to back this year has been really liberating," she says.
She also collaborated with blues-rock veterans Jimmy Hall and Reese Wynans on the 2013 project The Healers. The same year, she jammed onstage with blues icon Buddy Guy and guested on Devon Allman's album, Turquoise.