February 19, 2004

Test Spin: Mindy Smith

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On the current number-one country single in the nation, Alan Jackson drawls, “You were the first, so was I/We made love and then you cried.” Don’t worry. This is not that kind of country music.

Mindy Smith’s debut album, One Moment More, begins with a few notes and then a strummed guitar chord. A graceful voice tells you to “worry not my darling,” and suddenly a twenty-something from Long Island is breathing new life into the country music industry. While grouped into the “alt-country” label, Smith is much more country than alt. But don’t be scared away. Forget what you associate with country — all the sappy sentimentalism and flag-waving machismo. In the tradition of country legends Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch, Smith embodies the lone woman who goes her own way — a style Nashville critics call “the one redeeming quality of country.”

Smith’s voice transcends the unadorned music and typical lyrics. She’s that good. In “Down In Flames,” she can even sell you the line “Life’s so hard/and I’m doin’ what I can.” Smith could sing this review and it would sound beautiful. On the chorus of the album’s standout song, “Hurricane,” Smith sings exhilarating trills that send shivers down your spine. While mainstream country music continues to imitate and dilute, Mindy Smith has made a refreshing debut album leaving you wondering how far her voice will take her.

Archived article by Will Lanier