Samantha Fish was six months into a typical touring year — a lineup of almost 300 shows — when the pandemic hit.
"And then, hard stop," said the Kansas City-born singer, songwriter and guitarist.
"It was a jolt. I haven't worked so little in 12 years," she said. "I've always worked a lot, so to not work was interesting. I started channeling that energy into a record."
She eventually did take some time for reflection, and one of the things she discovered was that she didn't like the songs she was writing.
"I put them away and started over," she said. She doesn't write "happy songs" anyway, she said, but she still wanted tracks that would make her "feel good and empowered."
Having the time off allowed her to take her time and really focus on the writing.
"Before, I was always in a hotel room, and it was get in and get it done. It was nice to say, 'OK, all I'm going to do is write.' I was not always faithful or productive, but I kept chipping away."
The result is "Faster," her second release on Rounder Records. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Chart, No. 2 on the Americana Chart and No. 10 on the Rock Albums chart. She has been touring in support of the record since October and will be at Chattanooga's Walker Theatre on Wednesday.
If you go
* What: Samantha Fish in concert
* When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20
* Where: Walker Theatre, 399 McCallie Ave. (inside Memorial Auditorium)
* Admission: $25-$35
* Contact: 423-757-5580, tivolichattanooga.com
She and the band have been doing what she calls safe shows, which are either smaller in scale or outdoors.
"It was freaky [getting started], but it was like, 'OK, we can do this.' It was part of the challenge."
A new challenge for her, and for other musicians who like to focus on writing full-length albums, she believes, will be the focus on singles that the industry seems to be embracing. Though she prefers the longer format, she's open to the change in format.
"I think the industry is changing a lot moving more into the singles market, and that's an interesting thing to watch. To see more artists do singles because it seems like a pop thing, but people have a lot more stimulation and they don't have as much time to do an album."
She's fortunate, she said, to be on Rounder, which has a long reputation for supporting its artists and the directions they want to take with their careers.
"For me personally, I like putting out albums because I can grow and evolve and have time to say what I want, but really I want to do both and they [Rounder] are in the modern world and very open to the art."
Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-757-6354.
Did you know?
In 2019, Samantha Fish was named by Guitar World as “One of the 30 Best Guitarists in the World Today.” She came in at No. 7 behind Joe Bonamassa, Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks, Buddy Guy, John Mayer and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Completing the Top 10 were Gary Clark Jr., Tab Benoit and Billy Gibbons.