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Music Review: Mindy Smith – Stupid Love

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Mindy Smith garnered a lot of attention with her debut, '04's One Moment More. Her follow-up didn’t fare quite as well, her crystal-clear voice a bit lost among denser arrangements.

Here she returns with a remarkable collection that’s much more effective at matching her plaintive vocals with a punchy sound that features evident studio wizardry – more pop than roots – yet retains an appealingly organic feel thanks largely to the aching vulnerability in Smith’s crystalline voice.

Smith wrote all the material here, showing a sure hand at exploring relationships from a thoroughly mature perspective. Her reflections on love’s joys and heartbreaks are both clear-eyed and bear the weight of additional experience, giving her imagery an added depth. But while she’s always been a brave songwriter, unafraid to lay bear the devastation of love gone wrong, here it’s the sculpted soundscapes that cradle her words with richly layered textures that elevate the disc into a sonic delight.

Smith takes co-producer credit on this one with fellow Nashville natives Ian Fitchuk and Justin Loucks. Together they’ve built strong foundations for Smith’s articulate musings, dense yet sparingly applied for maximum effect. Smith has an unerring knack for matching lyric to melody – every tune here is a winner – and with the added touch of lovingly crafted arrangements, there are moments of sheer perfection. Whether it’s the lonely banjo and subtle strains of harmonica weaving through “If I Didn’t Know Any Better,” or the stark simplicity of the almost accapella “Disappointed,” the mood is appropriately evocative on Smith’s more introspective material. But “What Went Wrong” and “Take A Holiday,” the tunes that bookend the disc, both get big, bold arrangements that perfectly reflect Smith’s cautiously optimistic outlook.

Above it all, though, soars Smith’s extraordinary voice. Imbued with the ache of loneliness and rainy-day sadness, it’s fragile but somehow filled with indomitable hope; Smith may get kicked by love over and over again, but she’s still here to sing her song, and it’s clear that her belief in ‘stupid love’ never really wavers.

A mature and thoughtful outing, Stupid Love shows Smith has grown considerably, fulfilling the promise she showed on her debut and promising much more to come. Recommended!

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About John Taylor

  • Mark T Pease

    John,
    Everyone has an opinion. I am glad that you agree that her new album is great. The problem that I have is that all of her albums are representative of some the best music I have heard in years. I am sure you have to listen to many cd’s. Disk vs disk I put her up there as the best artist out there today. I have no problem listening to her music (all her albums) excusively all day wrong. There is not another artist today that I can say the same about. I hope your blog leads others to realize she is the most underrated performer today. Mindy keep up the good work. I would love to see another holiday album! Come to Gainesville FL this year on your tour!

  • Brian F

    I’ve been listening to Stupid Love for a couple of months now and have to say that Mindy has a genius for melody. Every song is memorable, and the middle eight in “Surface” (“Life’s hard….”) is songwriting of the highest caliber: simple, full of emotion, beautiful.

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