It’s been three years since Mindy Smith‘s last album, but far from being idle and she’s been using the time to put her house in order, describing the process as “investing in herself,” in order to encourage others to offer their time too. The culmination is a self title new record, which acts as a boldly compelling statement of just exactly where she is at artistically right now.
The first thing to grab you is that the CD itself is very stylishly presented and probably reflects the fact that Mindy once harboured an ambition to teach art. The second thing is that every track bears her name in the writing credits, either alone or in collaboration with Phil Madeira, Daniel Tashian, Lori McKenna and Tami Hinesh & Kate York. The most important thing to note, however, is that it sounds simply superb and Mindy has never been in finer voice.
She also co-produces with Jason Lehning, with the latter contributing various keyboards throughout. Adding to the team is bassist, Lex Price, who now works with k. d. lang and he’s brought guitarist Joe Pisapia along for the ride. The playing is, naturally enough, first rate and in places, surprisingly muscular. There are some snarling guitars on the opener Closer dropping a hint of things to come, even so the guitar crunch of the second part of the bluesy Don’t Mind Me is a surprise. “My Hell’s breaking loose,” she sings… And it sounds like it is.
But there are moments of bliss too and Pretending The Stars is the contented, emotional flip side as two lovers entwine. Taken as a duet with Daniel Tashian, it’s also an immediate stand out with its soaring guitar arpeggios. Tin Can is another bluesier number with a foot tappin’ shuffle to it, while Sober is amped up again with some more killer guitar licks. Devils Inside is an absolute heartbreaker and makes a great pairing with Cure For Love, with its lighter jazzy lilt.
By her own admission, Mindy has had to work hard at this, but that investment has paid off handsomely. Boldly self-titled, self-produced and self-assured, this is one hell of a statement.
Review by: Simon Holland