LONG Island-born, but long since resident in Nashville, singer-songwriter Mindy Smith first grabbed widespread attention via the audacious gambit of covering Dolly Parton’s totemic Jolene, on an album tribute to the country queen.
St Andrews in the Square, Glasgow
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Parton herself subsequently contributed backing vocals to the version featured on Smith’s stunning 2004 debut album, One Moment More, in return tribute to the younger singer’s feat of re-infusing the song with all its original, nakedly abject desperation.
Nearly a decade later, with her self-titled fifth album – and first self-release – just out, Smith chose to open here with that same breakthrough hit, but in a slower, almost languid rendition that lacked the searing intensity of first time around. This proved sadly symptomatic of the show as a whole, largely thanks to the combined effects of the venue’s echo-heavy acoustic – never the friendliest to electric guitar and drums, which comprised Smith’s backing line-up – and a blurry sound mix which failed to foreground her delectable vocals sufficiently.
Thus while it was possible to appreciate her outstanding timbre and range – shading from limpid, radiant purity to commanding raw steel – the vividly etched lyrics with which these qualities go hand in hand were substantially unintelligible.
There were a few welcome exceptions, when she sang simply solo, but the frustration was exacerbated by the evident quality – blunted though it was on this occasion – of several tracks from the new album.