Long Island Shores
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2006, Volume 13, #10
Written by John Metzger
There’s little doubt that Mindy Smith’s debut One Moment More contained the spark of a star in the making, but the collection’s bucolic charm largely was undermined by her incessant evangelizing as well as by her overly pretty arrangements. In short, the set too frequently sounded like prepackaged fodder for Nashville’s increasingly pop-oriented market. Although her latest effort Long Island Shores boasts a similar stylistic amalgamation of country, bluegrass, gospel, pop, and rock, Smith succeeds in striking a better balance among her many influences. In trading some of her earthier tendencies for feistier fare, she transformed the moody Gillian Welch-isms that marked One Moment More’s highlights into the straightforward, adult-oriented rock of Sheryl Crow. Yet, the result is far better than one initially might expect it to be.
Although Long Island Shores retains the polished, radio-friendly sheen of its predecessor, Smith’s delivery exudes more confidence, and her melodies — from the buoyant What If the World Stops Turning?, which she charmingly sings as a duet with Buddy Miller, to the jaunty, jazz- and soul-inflected groove of You Know I Love You Baby — are both insistent and indelible. Lyrically, too, Smith now demonstrates a greater presence, and instead of playing the role of the soul-saving proselytizer, she tones down the rhetoric and finds a seamless method of intertwining all things spiritual and corporeal. Sin, redemption, love, and loss become so entangled that it’s hard to tell about whom she is singing. No one is ever going to accuse Smith of undermining her ability to appeal to a mass audience, but this time, the manner in which she accomplishes her goal is far more effective. ½
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box