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DARDEN SMITH —EVERYTHING (Compass Records)

 

www.dardensmith.com

www.compassrecords.com

www.songwritingwithsoldiers.org

 

Singer-songwriter, Texan Darden Smith is a true professional. A man who is meticulous in what he does, not least are the songs he writes. To go with his self-penned tunes the album also has co-writes with self-minded performers in Matraca Berg, James House, Bruce Robison, Radney Fost

er, Jay Clementi and Christian Clementi. Smith recalls that his last record, Love Calling (2013) was his fourteenth in thirty years.

Smith afterwards went through a period where he wondered if had anything new to say, and if anyone was listening, but the songs would not be denied as they continued to spill forth. During this period, apart from performing and writing his songs he helped build the non-profit Song-writing-With-Soldiers. A program that brings professional songwriters together with wounded veterans to write songs about combat and the return home. Secondly, he was through with cynicism. It was a time to show human kindness, compassion for strangers, and for love, and what better way to do this than through his songs, his music. He felt he wasn’t getting any younger but he was becoming more contented due to him honing in on gratitude, faith, love and hope, and ability to spread joy and happiness as he started to see things differently.

Smith’s articulate work has never faltered over the years, and though he might not have produced the big hits but such is the quality of his work and that of the players involved the listener can’t but be impressed with his articulate creations. Musicians on Everything include Roscoe Beck (acoustic, electric bass), JJ Johnson (drums), Michael Ramos (piano), Charlie Sexton (electric guitar), David Mansfield (strings) and Smith (acoustic guitar, percussion, piano, ukulele) plus vocalists James House, Kelly Willis, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Bruce Robison. Smith’s tender ballads “Me Too”, “Can You See The Moon”, “Carousel” (w/ Willis) are paired with lilting jazz warmed odes (“Soul Searching”) and own assertive tunes “Home” and “Blessings” plus sombre, heart-felt ode “Forever” and beautiful love ballad “Firefly”. There's more to as he speaks of going against the grain and on thinking about those close to him who have left this world (“I Love You, Goodbye”), and of course the title-track “Everything” as he speaks of wanting it all. Not in a greedy fashion, but through the passing of time he’s become more aware of life’s treasures. Arguably, the strongest song, even edging the title-track Smith unfurls the muscular statement of“Love Will Win The War”. Nice one, Darden.  

 

                                                        Maurice Hope              

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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