Hear It First at Folk Alley ~ Mindy Smith: ‘Mindy Smith’

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by Kim Ruehl, for folkalley.com

It’s been eight years since Mindy Smith dropped her intensely introspective debutOne Moment More – on Vanguard Records. Since then, she’s become a staple in the realm of gloriously sad songs, an area championed by artists as variant as legends like Emmylou Harris and newer-comers like Rose Cousins. It’s unquestionably good company to be in, but Smith’s fifth album starts to veer out of that territory. With songs about rebirth, redemption, rediscovery, and revelation, she steers herself away from the sadness and instead toward hope. Here and there, when the songs allow themselves to relax, the self-titled disc is darn near upbeat.

On “Tin Can,” we even see her carelessly caterwauling “I’m just a happy old fool set free.”

But, it’s track six – “Everything Here Will Be Fine” – which seems to be the root of this album. It’s a hymn of sorts sung to a dying mother, to comfort her in her final moments. The song could nearly be misconstrued as a dirge, except it’s clear she believes what she’s singing about things turning out okay in the end.

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Besides, that’s a major key she’s singing in, despite its occasionally minor chords. For all its sadness and resignation, there’s a certain driving determination toward life in this song – perhaps the same determination which directs the rest of the album.

She sings:

Go ahead mother, he’s calling you home.
You can’t stay here forever; it’s time you moved on.
Don’t worry now, everything here will be fine.
Everything here is all right.
Your children are stronger than they may know;
Some will take longer letting you go.
Don’t worry now, everything here will be fine…

It must be noted that, five albums into her career, it was this project which Smith decided to title as her most self-definitive. For all the ruminating in shadows and dark corners she’s done, here’s an artist declaring hope truest expression is one of resilience and hope for the future.

Granted, Smith still has a voice like crying. There’s a certain emotionalism running rampant through everything she does – a singer at a fork in the road to revelation. One way is a road full of tears; the other is redemption. There are moments of relapse (“Sober”), granted, but in the end it’s clear that this time, she opted for the latter.

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