Mindy Smith is country singer for you folks (you know who you are) who just don’t like country music. I guess that makes her “alt-country”, whatever that means. She is from Nashville these days, but her roots are on Long Island, NY, and her sound is mostly devoid of that distinctive country twang. Maybe that makes her more of a folk singer—like a Lucy Kaplansky or Shawn Colvin.
Mindy Smith is the artist’s first disc in three years and her first not on Vanguard Records. 2009’s Stupid Love put Smith’s bell-clear singing voice in front of a band with more of a pop-rock sound—some keyboard sounds, some tastefully fuzzed guitar, a more slap-happy backbeat on the drums—and made the case that Smith is a perfectly viable not-country singer. Which she is…except where her confident and rich style seemed slightly stodgy on tracks that might have done well with more vocal flash.
A tune like “Pretending the Stars” has everything a pop song could want—a propulsive groove, a story about cruising in a car looking for a sense of release, a sultry minor-mode guitar hook, and then a chorus that sounds like a good friend you want to see again and again. But the song is also bathed in the nuance of a great country song, particularly a lovely harmony part that no pop song would bother with in 2012. “Sober” works the same way—using the sound of a big-guitar rock song to underpin a classic country narrative: a story song of disaster that repeats the line, “I tried sober / But I can’t get you out of my head / It’s over / And I can’t get you out of my head”.
Read my entire POPMATTERS review here: Mindy Smith: Mindy Smith