Mindy Smith,
One Moment More
(Vanguard, 2004)

I was compelled to seek out this album after being smitten by Mindy Smith's superlative, attitude-laden performance of "Jolene" on a British television broadcast of the Celtic Connections Festival. Smith had taken part in a Transatlantic Sessions gig featuring the cream of Celtic and bluegrass artists, including Bruce Molsky, Alison Brown, Karen Matheson, Beth Nielson Chapman and Michael McGoldrick.

One Moment More is, quite simply, one of the most beautifully crafted, perfectly balanced albums of contemporary song I've bought in years. Smith composes songs of great lyrical poignancy (inspired by loss), delivering them in a devastatingly direct manner in her beautiful voice -- she must speak powerfully to her listeners. Every song has its individual strength -- one song disarms with its lyrical intensity (the supremely moving "One Moment More," for example); another with its searing vocal beauty ("Raggedy Ann"); whilst another hits you with its hard-edged rock arrangement ("Hard to Know," with heavy undertones of Suzanne Vega). Many of the songs have a deeply spiritual edge ("Come to Jesus," "Angel Doves") and seem to speak of demons conquered following loss.

A brief look at the sleeve notes reveals that Smith is a singer-songwriter who's attracted the attention of none other than the legendary Dolly Parton! Smith covered "Jolene" for a Parton tribute album, and Parton appeared to love the version so much that she sang backing vocals to the track -- which is tucked away right at the end as a bonus. It is a beautiful cover of a beautiful song, and is transformed into something very special by Parton's amazing vocals.

Elsewhere, I find myself moved by the sheer beauty of songs such as "Falling," with its Rusby-esque qualities, and the achingly affecting "Down in Flames." The mood is beautifully lifted by songs like "Fighting for It All" and the upbeat "It's Amazing."

Smith has recorded an amazing album of exquisite beauty; Vanguard seems to have huge confidence in her songs, and the musicianship is excellent -- always keeping Smith's voice to the fore, right where it should be. I so look forward to her next album!

- Rambles
written by Debbie Koritsas
published 4 June 2005

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