Above: Samantha Poole’s Wild Ride debuts next month. Photo courtesy of Samantha Poole
With both rollicking whiskey-bar anthems and emotional country-pop ballads, Samantha Poole follows through with her solo EP
By Jim Miller
For singer Samantha Poole, what started off as a casual Saturday jog eventually became a wild ride that has continued for a couple of years.
In the summer of 2020, Poole and her drummer/friend Ritchie Rubini were on one of their weekly jogs at Delcastle Park talking music. The two musicians had been playing together in the local Americana band Stone Shakers for almost three years at the time.
After the run, Rubini pitched Poole the idea of her singing lead vocals on a song he recently had written.
“I said, ‘I have a song idea that I was gonna pitch to Stone Shakers,’” Rubini recalls. “It was a demo [I had on my phone]. I played it for her from my phone and she said, ‘I like that. Send it to me.’”
Flash forward to now: Poole is sitting down comfortably in Rubini’s studio talking about her first solo country-pop EP entitled Wild Ride, which comes out next month.
“The funny thing is, is that song’s not even on this record, but it was what started this thing,” Poole laughs while recounting the EP’s origins.
“Although Poole has contributed to developing some of the original music Stone Shakers play and did some very basic songwriting in college, she’d never fully embarked on anything resembling solo material.
But that first song with Rubini led to the idea of doing more.
“During COVID, I had a lot more free time,” Poole recalls. “So, I said, ‘OK, let’s try this.’ So, we did. And soon we started getting on a roll.”
A mother of two, Poole would often drop her kids off at swim practice then, while waiting, scribble ideas down in her car or drive over to Rubini’s studio and record some vocal parts. On other days, she and Rubini would hunker down in the studio writing songs from scratch.
Although Rubini played many roles while working on Wild Ride with Poole — including producer, drummer, guitarist and keyboardist — he found that being Poole’s song-writing partner was particularly engaging.
“It really was kind of old school,” Rubini adds. “We would think-tank with pen and paper. I’d play some chords on guitar; she’d come up with lyrics. I’d come up with melodies; she’d come up with hooks.
“It was a true collaboration, which is kind of unheard of, for me, because in this day and age, it’s usually [more] like you send somebody a track, and then they send you a beat. And with those things, you’re rarely in the same room together.”
The more-traditional working arrangement led to songs like the sentimental “Regrets,” which sees its main character looking back at a missed romantic opportunity; the powerfully poignant title track, which deals with the ups and downs of life as seen through a generational lens; and then “Grandma’s Whiskey Jug,” a get-the-party-started ode to moonshine that reveals a long-kept family secret.
“That was a fun one to write,” Poole says. “My favorite line in that one [is] ‘she batted those eyes, never got caught and had dinner on the table by five.’”
Poole continues to sing for Stone Shakers as well the occasional gig for The Snap, where she got her start more than a decade ago, backing up longtime legend Ben LeRoy. Yet she sees these recordings as a distinct change of pace, musically speaking.
“For me, this is all different,” Poole says, “because I’ve always been behind somebody [on stage]. I’ve always been with Ben — or someone else — singing either in the background or beside them.
“Even with Stone Shakers, it’s a whole collaborative thing. We’re a band and everybody’s in there. But for me, it’s like, ‘OK, then there’s Samantha,’ and I’m not one of those forward kind of people. I’m more of an introvert. And it’s more difficult for me.”
With Wild Ride, Poole has discovered aspects of herself and talents that previously had been unexplored.
“I feel like I got a little bit of a writing voice,” Poole says. “And, then, just kind of learning from Ritchie. He’s been teaching me a lot. And I definitely am listening more [to the mixes].”
Rubini agrees: “It’s so cool to see how’s she grown. She’s in [the studio] with me, in front of the computer, making suggestions about how we can improve the song… whereas two years ago, she wouldn’t know what the heck is going on.
“She’s developed into this artist who knows what she wants for the song, number one, and also knowing what she wants out of her vocal performances.”
— Music fans will get to know a lot more about Poole’s vocal performances on Friday, September 16, when Wild Ride is released on all major digital music platforms — listen to the single Still Feels Like Yesterday on Spotify HERE.