Carter Sampson — Mockingbird Sing

The album’s 12 tunes brim with crystal-clear, country guitars celebrating all the joys of rural life — and not necessarily just the whiskey-related ones.

It’s a dusty gem of an Okie-born album (Sampson’s now based in Fayetteville, Ark.), spiked with the occasional blast of organ and glimmering pedal steel from Chris Moore.

Wanda Jackson and Woody Guthrie get a shout-out in Sampson’s fantasy track, “Queen of Oklahoma,” where she’s got a “Dust Bowl throne” and “the wavin’ wheat’s always waving at me.” It’s charming and, most importantly, believable. With her voice winsome and earnest, it’s a great relief to the sassy, affirmative, Miranda Lambert-with-a-shotgun songs that female country singers currently feel pressured to write.

The record chugs to a climax on the fifth track, “Jesse James,” wherein Sampson belts the title lyric more whip-like and intense than the pastoral subject matter would suggest. Here, she’s definitely straddling between country and modern rock, which is pretty impressive considering the cat-lady eyeglass frames she’s wearing on the disc’s back cover.

“Mockingbird Sing” is out now in physical and digital formats. Sampson performs at a free show Saturday at JJ’s Alley, 212 E. Sheridan. For more information, call 605-4543. —Matt Carney

Matt Carney

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