Darden Smith Reviewed
Darden SmithSunflower (Dualtone) There's an intimacy to Darden Smith's seventh LP. Lucky No. 7. Not just in its subject matter -- love and the damage done -- but in its electric blanket of sound. As such, Sunflower is the culmination of the Austin singer-songwriter's career-long path toward a songcraft that evokes the timeless daydream of late-Seventies pop, while grounded in the here and now of contemporary production values. The here-and-now-sounding proximity of Smith's caressing nylon-stringed acoustic guitar on "Day Dream" is an obvious example, augmented by Roscoe Beck's acoustic bass, and Patty Griffin's aching harmonies. So is the leadoff track "Perfect Moment," featuring Kim Richey's shadowy vocals, and most everything else that follows. Griffin and Richey, in fact, provide the perfect counterpoints to Smith's sincere tenor. The way his voice floats above the glowing bed of music on "Stronger," with former ace local axman Billy White's guitar poking through the fuzz, is positively Paul Simon. The blithe, upbeat shrug of the unreciprocated "Til It Bled" is nothing less than sardonic in its off-hand futility. The residue of prior relationships ("Satellite"), forgiveness of the same ("After All This Time"), the hope of love reborn ("New Gospel"), Sunflower grows "Closer to You" with every deep inhalation.