Satin Nickel Modernizes Old American Roots in “Free”

Image credit: Milos Balać

Satin Nickel has a sound unlike any other band. Consisting of Samantha Aneson (vocals, guitar, banjo), Morgan Hollingsworth (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Ariana Karp (cello), Nikola Balać (drums), and Andrew Shewaga (bass), the quintet seamlessly blends old American roots styles with modern folk and rock influences. “Music becomes more interesting as time goes on, in my opinion, because of the creation and fusion of genres,” says Aneson, and her work is proof of that.

The group’s songs are as varied as the music it draws from. “Call It” sounds almost like a show tune, with Aneson’s rich, earthy voice lamenting a relationship that’s doomed despite the love remaining. “Just Keep Running” is reminiscent of a country song, with Hollingsworth providing the vocals. “Secondhand Smoke” utilizes the harmonies and call-and-response format of an old American folk song. “In the Rearview” is a mellow folk ballad with an indie rock drumbeat.

In their latest single, “Free,” off their upcoming album Shadow of Doubt (set to be released April 10), Aneson sings about the conflicting emotions she experienced after moving away from her family and friends to pursue a fuller life in New York, asking, “Is it smart running from an empty heart?” Her voice soars through gorgeous high notes in the refrain: “Oh I’m free, oh I’m free.”

“I’ve always been a super adventurous type,” says Aneson. “I knew from a young age I wanted to live in several different places throughout my life, but I didn’t realize how much I would miss the place I came from and the people there. As an adult, I’ve lived on the other side of those decisions, and though I wouldn’t trade the opportunities and experiences I’ve had, I’ve lived with a lot of remorse. I’ve missed out on valuable years with my parents, for which the longing only grows stronger as they get older.”

The rest of the album includes more music about “losing people and finding something to gain in the midst of that loss,” as well as “moving forward through doubt,” she says.

It’s no coincidence that Aneson’s voice sounds like it’s meant for the stage; she and Hollingsworth met while they were studying theater. “When we moved to New York, we reconnected and bonded over our love of folk music, the Punch Brothers, and using songwriting to heal,” Aneson recalls. “We both were going through a lot at the time and were churning out songs that, when we shared them with each other, we knew belonged together.” Since then, they’ve added the three additional members to their band and released a self-titled EP and three singles.

On Shadow of Doubt, the band branches out of its folk and Americana influences to incorporate electronic and ambient sounds. “We’re big fans of traditional folk and bluegrass, and we’re really interested in the ways we can infuse electronic and rock music into those styles,” says Aneson. “There’s a track on our upcoming album in which the instruments trade fours, which is a hallmark of bluegrass jamming, but it’s in the midst of a California pop-style song.”

“We’re interested in playing folk music without the confines of the singular genre,” she adds. “Let it all come out.”

Image credit: Milos Balać