David G. Smith- First Love review

smithDavid G. Smith

First Love


You need to check yourself sometimes.

Maybe you are starting to slack off at work. Perhaps you are starting to imbibe just a little too frequently. You may notice you aren’t really engaged in your relationship, allowing the mundane to become routine.

You recognize the issue, and because you realize its importance, you make a change to get yourself back on track.

David G. Smith, challenged by mentors Darrell Scott and Mary Gauthier, realized he was losing himself some years ago. Chasing the Nashville brass ring—co-writes, pitches, holds—Smith found himself writing material that no longer spoke to him. He needed to get back to ‘the truth.’

He did. Finding his voice and his songwriting soul, Smith has crafted a series of independently released albums, including live projects capturing his songs in their natural environment. Reflective and demanding, Smith has received kudos from folks who know good music, the likes of Peter Cooper, Robert K. Oermann, and Gauthier.

“One House” stretches peace, love, and understanding to contemporary circumstance. The uncertainty bred by 9/11 is juxtaposed by the selfless sacrifices of those who responded when “Angels Flew.” “Other Side of Free” is the type of song we used to discover on Nanci Griffith albums. Which doesn’t mean everything has to be heavy: Smith’s “You’re the Reason God Made Tequila”  is both playful in execution and honest in tone.

First Love is Smith’s third studio album. It contains ten artfully arranged original numbers of the type that brings to mind the likes of Kieran Kane, Stephen Fearing, and David Francey. There is an aching reality populating the title track, a thread of hope woven through experience: “first love…after the last one died.” Life goes on, renewed. Larry Jon Wilson might have enjoyed “Nightlife in the Stix,” a song that (perhaps inadvertently) captures his swampy, southern soul approach to true life blues, “with some sweet lowdown on the stand up bass” from Doug Kahan.

Smith explores the unknown certainties of life (“Questions,”) juxtaposing the wonderings of a child with those of a grandfather. “Carrie” possesses the simplicity and purity of mid-70s folk rock, while “Ocean Soul” appeals to the freedom-lover that (hopefully) exists in each of us, if only when on vacation. Keb’ Mo slips reso into “I Can’t Tell,” a relaxed, bluesy jam with shades of Delaney and Bonnie.

The album’s lead track should garner notice. “Fear” is a soneofabitch sonofagun that Smith faces down: if only all of us could! Featuring pals Buddy Mondlock (guitars and vocals) and Gauthier (vocals) as well as Kenny Malone (percussion,) Bryn Davies (bass,) and Steve Conn (keys,) this song is possibly Smith’s calling card: it was featured in a different, and more profane, arrangement on Non-Fiction; deceptively straight-forward, the song has depth beyond its inspired performance.

First Love. Damn.

To be released February 5, 2016.

Hey, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee; I appreciate it.


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