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In Rotation: Mindy Smith's self-titled new album

July 24, 2012|By Randy Lewis
  • Mindy Smith has just released her latest album, "Mindy Smith," on her own Giant Leap Records label.
Mindy Smith has just released her latest album, "Mindy Smith,"… (Ricardo de Aratanha / Los…)

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Mindy Smith made her reputation as a somewhat dark country-folk wunderkind with her acclaimed 2004 debut album, “One Moment More,” and its 2006 successor, "Long Island Shores.” She threw some listeners, however, with her last album, 2009’s “Stupid Love,” which found her in a generally happier place and playing with edgier sonic textures that aligned her more with indie rock bands than the Nashville singer-songwriter community she’s been part of for the last two decades.

“Mindy Smith,” the first release for her own Giant Leap Records label, is something of a return to earlier form, but one on which she balances light and dark themes, the temporal and the spiritual, in songs that are often disarmingly moving.

Her voice carries a vulnerability that never loses touch with an inner strength, and she continues to employ surprising melodic jumps and jazz-inflected phrasing that elevates her singing above the Nashville pack.

“Sober” shares some of the don’t-get-mad-get-even attitude behind a lot of recent vintage female empowerment country hits, but raises it to a more nuanced level as she searches for inner understanding rather than outward retribution.

“Closer,” the first single, is an expression of faith in the face of earthly tribulation that connects with the strongest parts of her earlier work. The blues swing of “Cure for Love” makes it clear that she can go vocal cord to vocal cord with Diana Krall, Tony Bennett or Adele when she wants to go down that road.

“Devils Inside” is an uncommonly perceptive examination of the role adversity can play for the alert person, making clear it’s not automatically something to be avoided: “Thank God for the devils inside … They’ll keep your angels inspired.”

Mindy Smith
“Mindy Smith”
Giant Leap Records

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