Premiere | Oliver the Crow – ‘Samson’

Photo: Taylor Noel Photography

Everyone knows and loves Regina Spektor’s ‘Samson’. Or, at the very least, they should. It seems like the singer-songwriter’s gorgeous and plaintive 2006 alt-folk wonder has inspired as many covers as it has television placements. The heartbreaking, sort-of biblical love song has become a staple of our roots community in particular, with Oliver the Crow being among the latest to take on the staple tune.

The duo’s Kaitlynn Raitz and Ben Plotnick already had an impressive couple of portfolios to start with before settling into a musical project together. Followers of contemporary string bands may know Plotnick for his brilliant work fiddling alongside The Fretless. Elsewhere, Raitz has been quite the cellist, singer-songwriter, and photographer extraordinaire. The two certainly have the pedigree to take on such a brilliant song. Better yet, they have the know-how to develop their own take on it that will appeal to listeners’ heartstrings in new and familiar ways alike.

As Raitz tells For Folk’s Sake, “I’ve always loved this cover by Regina Spektor. We wanted to find a cover to “folk-ify” and I thought reaching back to the early 2000’s would be the way to go…”

…and “folk-ify” it they do, transforming ‘Samson’ into a string jam all without ripping out any bit of its heart. Raitz and Plotnick’s gorgeous harmonies on the song’s a capella opening sets their audience in for a listening experience similar enough to Spektor’s original arrangement, though it’s deceptive. That tasteful snippet transforms into a more briskly-paced overall performance from Oliver the Crow, featuring Raitz on lead vocals as she and Plotnick add their own helpings of hearth-lain strings over the track for good measure.

As a result, their take on ‘Samson’ is just as lovely as the original, but it’s been reinvigorated with a folksier spirit. Their respect for both traditional and contemporary iterations of folk, bluegrass, and even chamber genres is obvious as they lay into this modern classic. In short, it’s brilliant, and a treat that all For Folk’s Sake readers should relish hearing.

Oliver the Crow’s self-titled debut album is set to release on 22 June. Pre-order it via PledgeMusic today!

Words by: Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)