Having impressed at the CMA Americana Showcase earlier in the year Kashena Sampson was back for a handful of UK dates and this show at London’s Slaughtered Lamb was her debut London headline gig.
Opening was troubadour James Riley, proud Londoner and ex-Nashville resident who played an energetic and quality set, including his forthcoming single Lightning Strikes.
Sampson bounced onto the stage with infectious enthusiasm and thanked the audience for coming to her “first headline show in London”. Her warmth and personality shone through and she captivated throughout her 11-song set.
Playing every track from her wonderful debut album Wild Heart it’s clear the album is well named. She has a well documented wild background and sings with heart and total conviction.
Overlapping between country, soul and blues Sampson has an incredible voice. She wrote all songs on her debut album bar one and they are fantastic, lyrically and musically.
She kicked off her set with the slick country rock That Don’t Sit Too Well With Me and her band of Ben Reed on guitar, Harry Behay on bass and Mikey Sorballo, with his unorthodox and compelling style on drums, hit the ground running.
Greasy Spoon followed, about her time as a Las (she pronounces it “Los” as the locals do) Vegas waitress, a country romp reminiscent of Dory Previn, who Sampson had not heard of when asked after the gig.
Highlights of the set were the bluesy Hold Me Close with awesome vocals, and the beautiful She Shines which an audience member compared to Stevie Nicks.
Sampson commands the stage, with her impeccable outfit screaming “look at me” and her voice “listen to me”. She exudes confidence, love and fun. She was having a ball up there and her enthusiasm spread to the audience.
Catch Sampson when you can and hopefully she will back on these shores soon. If you can’t see her live buy the album. If you like country-tinged blues with passion you won’t regret it.
Review and live photo by Chaz Brooks
Listen to Kashena Sampson – Wild Heart here
Purchase Kashena Sampson – Wild Heart here