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David G Smith's 'First Love' (Hey Dave Music) is Not What You Might Think [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt m.greenblatt@classicalite.com on Feb 12, 2016 01:40 PM EST

Six albums in, the career of singer/songwriter David G Smith has the Iowan belaboring reality to the core. First Love (Hey Dave Music) is 10 deeply felt originals on the cusp of bluesy Americana and righteous roots fervor. It's different. Captivating. Adult. In Smith's worldview, "First Love," the title track, isn't about a childhood crush but the crush of divorce upon one's soul...then the reawakening. "She was the road/She was the guide/She was the passenger/Risking the ride/I wanted her to save me/Lord, she tried/First love/After the last one died."

It is this kind of painful reality that informs almost every track herein. "In The Silence" is for his demented dad whose battle with Alzheimer's has obviously made a severe impression on this artist's purview. "Questions" starts with the line "Grandpa, why'd my daddy have to die?" Of course, all isn't morbid and stoic. The joy of music-making itself is celebrated in "Nightlife in the Stix" where he sings-in that sandpaper-lite voice-"Jimmy's in the backyard sittin' in a lawn chair steppin' on June bugs pickin' the flat-top guitar with some sweet low down on the stand up bass with a fiddle in the middle of the washboard rhythm and harp."

Blues ace Keb Mo adds some sterling licks to Blue Miller's production, he of India Arie and Bob Seger as Jelly Roll Johnson blows that blues harp, atop fiddle, mandolin, bass, drums and cello. Smith adds his own piano and acoustic guitar in conjunction with Joe Robinson's electric lead guitar that bends the music forward on the uptempo stuff while practically commenting on the action during the midtempo story-songs. Three sweet back-up females contribute the obligatory oohs and aahs.

It all adds up to quite the personal statement from Mr. Smith, who toured the Colorado Rockies for the better part of a decade while being managed by Spirit drummer Cass Cassidy. Yet it was five years of writing songs for others in Nashville and a few more years working as a medical investigator examining complaints against physicians that gave Smith his eye for detail. Still, it took a Costa Rica songwriting retreat with fellow artists Beth Nielsen Chapman and Mary Gauthier to even approach his potential.

That potential has now been realized.

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TagsDavid G Smith, REVIEW, Americana, Keb Mo