New Tune : Kashena Sampson : Whole Lot Better

Photo credit: Laura Partain

Real talk here: Within 30 seconds of cueing up Kashena Sampson, I was totally convinced she was the second coming of Bobbie Gentry. Not that that's a bad thing. Far from it, until you realize that you've either never heard of Bobbie Gentry, or know her well enough to know that she was woefully underappreciated in the good ol' US of A throughout her 25 year career, despite lugging off three Grammys in 1967 thanks to this gothic yarn of teenage love.

Hell, they don't even spell her name correctly most of the time! How's that for respect?

Regardless, to my ear, Sampson shares a great deal of Gentry's frankness, if not her fearlessness, as evidenced in spades by "Whole Lot Better," the lead single off Time Machine, an album basically forged in the fires of misfortune. See, the album was tracked during two white-knuckle days way back in 2019, but the release was initially delayed when The Basement East, the near legendary East Nashville watering hole where Sampson was slinging drinks, was destroyed by a tornado in March of 2020.

Then there was that pandemic thing, which of course threw another monkey wrench into the works.

"Whole Lot Better" feels timeless to me; a hooky little number that could just have easily been recorded in 1979. And there's something about the way she delivers those "good to his woman where it counts" lines that sets my little black heart aflutter. Even better is the fact that the Adam Jones-directed video answers, for once-and-for-all, the age-old question of whether a bell-bottom jumpsuit is appropriate attire for mowing the law, before or after Labor Day.

And as far as Time Machine, it is finally coming, on September 9th in fact, and I for one will be most intrigued to hear what else this one-time cruise ship performer has up her corduroy sleeve.

And since you brought up Bobbie Gentry and monochromatic jumpsuits, it would be a shame to close without including the tune I consider her finest.


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