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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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May 2018

John Prine
67 pts.
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Settling Scores vol. 2

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