No Bomb is Smart
(Disappear, 2004)

I was caught off guard when I first started listening to No Bomb is Smart by SONiA. This artist, like Madonna and Cher, uses only a single name. The CD insert shows a beach scene with a lifeguard watching over the water. The title of the CD mentions a bomb. I was not expecting an intro that sounded like it belonged on the soundtrack for some epic film. After about 45 seconds, SONiA's somewhat scratchy, yet endearing vocals joined in. I instantly had a good feeling that I was going to enjoy this release. I wasn't disappointed!

The first track, "No More Songs," straddles the line between soundtrack epic and folk as Sonia croons a song written by Phil Ochs. This is the only track out of 12 that Sonia did not pen. The lyrics are tragic and sorrowful as they focus on loss. What shines on this piece, however, are the string arrangements. There is beauty in the sadness. I think SONiA's vocals add to the feeling of despair.

One of my favorite tracks is "Gangsters of Love." This piece is more folk/country in nature. The chorus is very catchy. "I just want to say / I break the law everyday / to love you completely / we must be gangsters of love...." The simple "hey, hey, yeah" SONiA liberally sprinkles throughout the track are contagious and easy to sing along with.

"Won't Let Go" is very touching. SONiA sings about growing up and the support she had from her father whether it was learning to ride a bicycle or playing the guitar and become a singer. The passion SONiA belts out as she sings "don't let go -- just hold on / keep your eye on the road / and your heart in a song / whatever happened is already gone / don't let go -- don't let go" is enough to bring a tear to your eye.

A lot of folks contributed to the making of No Bomb is Smart including Cindy (vocals), Craig Krampf (drums and percussion), Glenn Worf (bass), Pat McGrath (acoustic guitar), Ed Snodderly (dobro, mandello and acoustic guitar), Hank Singer (fiddle), Bill Cuomo (keyboards and strings), Jerry Flowers (bass), Kenny Greenberg (guitars) and John Deaderick (keyboards). With all these musicians backing her, SONiA only has to worry about vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica and piano.

I have enjoyed listening to No Bomb is Smart. I recommend it, but that recommendation comes with a warning: SONiA definitely has a political bent. There are songs that deal with the terrorist attacks that occurred at the beginning of the decade. She also makes her displeasure with the president known in the title track. So, depending upon your feelings towards Bush, you may want to factor that in to your decision on whether or not to give this CD a chance.

by Wil Owen
14 July 2007

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