Artist to Watch: Samantha Crain

Oklahoma singer-songwriter embraces both joy and anguish

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Hometown: Shawnee, Oklahoma

Backstory: The 26-year-old Crain is a born-and-bred Okie with Choctaw heritage; she plays with a revolving cast of musicians, including fiddle player Daniel Foulks. While attending Oklahoma Baptist University, she registered for a semester-long songwriting retreat at Martha's Vineyard. The experience helped Crain hone her craft, and after returning to Oklahoma, she went all-in on a music career. Crain released her debut EP, The Confiscation, in 2007 and has released three albums since. Her latest, Kid Face, was released in February on Ramseur Records.

Cruising the Country: Here, Crain covers Sufjan Stevens' "Romulus" with help from Foulks. She first heard the track while on a family vacation at age 17, as her dad drove through mountain roads in Colorado and New Mexico. "I had a very histrionic reaction to the song the first time I heard it," Crain tells Rolling Stone. "The combination of the fog sleeping in the valleys, the pine branches cumbersome with moisture, and the slow, winding path of the truck really supplemented the anguish of the song."

Homecoming: Nine years after first hearing "Romulus," Crain was visiting Wayne Coyne's Oklahoma City art space, the Womb Gallery, around Christmas when she noted a "muffled holiday solitude." She decided to play some songs, filming them in single takes. "I like that it is a bit antithetical that we recorded such a melancholy song at a place that is known for radiating joy and celebration," Crain says.