Laura Smith,
Laura Smith
(CBC, 1989; Cornermuse, 1995)

In her self-titled CD, Laura Smith steers clear of the whiny self-centered introspection to which a singer-songwriter easily falls prey. Instead, Smith explores universal themes and presents them in textured, multi-layered songs.

Smith accompanies herself on acoustic guitar with backup support from David Burton (percussion and synths), Clarence Deveau (electric guitar), Bruce Jacobs (bass), Bruce Dixon (bass) and A. Gillis (harmonica). The arrangements are subtle, highlighting Smith's vocals. Her voice is deep, powerful and versatile, as the range of styles within her songs demonstrates amply.

"Bells" has a soft folk-rock feel, while "Elemental" is more like a reflective musical poem than a melodic song. The constantly shifting melody focuses attention on the intense lyrics.

Smith sings "The Tide After Shiftin'" a cappella, lending the air of a hymn and hence layers of meaning to the song. She changes gears with the bluesy "Faceless Wonder," a terrific look at a relationship that isn't quite clicking -- and we've all been there.

With "Jordy," Smith dips into musical storytelling with song about (presumably) developers and other outsiders taking over a small coastal town. "Matt's Tune" has a rockabilly flair, and a lively upbeat sound. Smith also uses a cappella singing to quite a different end than previously on the CD in the sly and sassy "Works Great on Paper."

With all the range in styles, this is a cohesive, beautifully put together CD, with nary a bad track on the disc. Smith's lyrics are polished and original, with lines that jump out at you and make your breath catch in your throat with their naked and perceptive honesty. Furthermore, the songs, originally recorded in 1989, are still vibrant and vital today, certainly a true test of a songwriter's talent.

Intelligent lyrics, versatile styling and a rich vibrant voice that makes your toes curl are good reasons to look for Laura Smith.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 3 November 2001