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MINDY SMITH —MINDY SMITH (Giant Leap / TVX Records; self-released)

 

http://www.mindysmith.com

 

 

Out of the blocks in a determined, breezy fashion Mindy Smith lays down a mood of steely determination. As a great deal (as always with her music) honesty surfaces about her the state of her life. As in her pleading to be taken back (‘Take Me Back’) and asked to be given time on ‘Don’t Mind Me’; as she is sat there alone thinking and trying to sort herself out and get back into the flow of life. Something this all too often fragile singer-songwriter has done. Now on her own, her contract with Vanguard complete Smith is left to create her music with less restraints than ever before.

 

Thankfully, she has at last found herself standing on firmer ground than she ever has. Able to reveal her hurt and not overly dwell on it. Her song ‘Tin Can’ has a jaunty carefree feel enough to lift her spirit as she speaks of freedom opposed to sadness and regret. This feel of a greater contentment spills over on a pedal steel (Dan Dugmore) underscored ‘Everything Here Will Be Fine’. While on the flip-side of the coin, amidst swirling electric lead guitar (Joe Pisapia) and strong rhythm (Ian Fitchuk, Lex Price) ‘Sober’ contains a wonderful come join me hooky chorus. On the subject of hooks her co-write with Daniel Tashian ‘Pretending The Stars’ has her through off the shackles and cruise through life for once (I love the guitar work). Some of the songs and the recordings themselves came when she was at a low end regards a personal fall-out hence it is difficult to imagine her bettering the performances, particularly strong are her unwavering vocals. 

 

Smiths’ combination of pop, country and smoother stuff as in a Sarah Vaughan (a hero of Smith) inspired ‘Cure For Love’ have her run the gamut of Americana to good effect, and has in wondrous ballad ‘When You’re Walking On My Grave’ the performance to elevate her to greater things. Undoubtedly the best cut on the record the entanglement of female harmonies; Sarah Siskind, Julie Lee alongside her own vocals plus electric lead and pedal steel and mandolin, acoustic guitar (Bryan Sutton) a home run is struck! Country with a hint of gospel it shows where her heart lies. An album of this kind of music and she would be not only be turning heads but bodies too and people dipping in their pocket to buy one for a friend too. To close she delivers, in understated fashion ‘If I’ (complete with scratch vocals). A beautiful heart tugging affair she edges through the reflective, hand shaped lyrics to the sound of Sutton’s tender acoustic guitar and Pisapia’s restrained electric (and that is it) as in true showmanship reserves her best work on the record till the final two cuts.

 

                                                                   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
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RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
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Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
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