Review: A Western Perspective by Darden Smith
Darden Smith/western sky/independent
Four out of five stars
Darden Smith is an eloquent singer-songwriter, who addresses matters of the heart and a range of common circumstances with care and conviction. His last album, western sky, offers a breathtaking view of the sights and sounds of the American West. An inspired experience that came to full fruition when, at the height of the pandemic, Smith found himself traversing these western realms in order to complete writing projects with veterans he worked with as part of his SongwritingWith:Soldiers program.
Not surprisingly then, these songs sound with emphatic emotion and expansive perspective. As for the latter, music is just one element of this offering – a book of photographs, lyrics and essays are also available, allowing Smith’s imagination to explore inspired songs and stories. by the people and places encountered during his journey. cross country. The focus is on emotion and the thoughtfulness and resolution gleaned from songs like “Los Angeles,” “Hummingbird” and “Western Skies” capture that imagery and grandeur through a series of soundscapes as moving as they are. bewitching.
Likewise, the tone and tempos change in subtle ways, from the quiet circumspection of “Mile Between” (Lately I’ve been wishing the world was flat / Walk to the edge then turn back) and the thoughtful rumination of “Running Out Of Time (If these days are numbered and there’s an end to the line, then I’m gonna love you like I’m running out of time) to the constant assurance of “Not tomorrow yet” and “Turn the Other Cheek”. Through it all, the music remains thoughtful, eloquent and touching, a set of songs that convey a compelling notion of the specific circumstance, informed by the shimmer of pedal steel, the subtle accent of keyboards and acoustic guitars, and idyllic imagery. It’s actually a lavish set of songs, and perhaps Smith’s most insightful effort to date.
That in itself is significant given a career that spans some 35 years and the 16 albums he has released in the meantime. Although he may not have been entirely familiar to the masses, he acquired a devoted following who came to appreciate his contemplative reflections and subtle finesse. western sky encapsulates these forces both wistfully and purposefully, and in the process Smith has achieved what can only be called a milestone and a masterpiece.