Release Date: 01.27.04
Record label: Vanguard
Genre(s): Trance, Big Beat, Ambient, House, Trip-Hop, etc.
False Advertising, But Pleasant Enough
by: matt cibula
After hearing the way Mindy Smith knocked “Jolene” out of the park on the Just Because I’m a Woman comp, I (and a lot of people in the country music industry) got all geeked to hear what Smith would do on her first solo album. She seemed like the whole package: young! cool! pretty! new! actually writing her own songs on her first record!
And if the whole thing was like the first song on One Moment More, we’d be in business. It’s a blues/gospel/country tune called “Come to Jesus”—hey, wait! where are you going?! Well, if the idea of that makes you extremely dubious, then screw you, good music can come from everywhere. Not only does this song manage to rock., there’s even a temporary glimpse of skepticism right in the middle, where it sounds like maybe she quotes Jesus as saying something like “I have come with a lie to set you free.” Is this some kind of code casting doubt on the rest of the song? It certainly makes it more interesting…but it doesn’t matter anyway, because the song is really all about the punch of the electric and slide guitars anyway.
After that, though, the record turns awfully schizo as far as I’m concerned. “Falling” and “Raggedy Ann” are dull folk-rock things, full of sappy lines and soggy thinking. I’ve heard that the latter is based on her own difficult childhood before she was adopted, but it still doesn’t seem convincing in the least; lines like “All the busy people keep walking away / Like they can’t see me / Or anything” try for pathos, miss, and go straight for bathos.
Smith is much more effective when she goes for the throat. “Train Song” regains some country flavor, managing to sound like a hillbilly ballad (chorus: “Is my sweet man on that train?”) with an Aimee Mann middle eight. “Hard to Know” lets the E-bow guitar blast on the verses and chugs along hard on the chorus, very sinister and, yeah, Mann-like vocal tone. And “Fighting For It All” is folky-sounding but has a hard edge to it nonetheless: “I know I’m not that pretty / I’m only average smart / With an overwhelming uncanny need / Just to need to survive”.
But when she’s not rocking, Smith loses that edge, and the songs get so boring that it’s hard to hear the cool stuff. There is a soft slow yucky song called “Angel Doves” on this record, and it is so sickeningly mellow and easy-to-take and God-is-our-big-buddy that I want to take back everything nice I said about “Come to Jesus.” The song “Hurricane” fails to rock like one, the song “It’s Amazing” isn’t. She makes it too easy.
Mindy Smith hasn’t yet decided what she wants to do. If she wants to be country, she could do that well. If she wants to be rock, ditto. If she wanted to do devotional music, that would be cool (except she wouldn’t be able to say “shit” on a Christian record). And she could even do folk music well, although I wouldn’t listen to it. But this kind of waffling is just indecisive, and confusing, and boring. Pleasant enough, but boring. 26-Jan-2004 10:55 AM