Suddenly Bright Out
With SUDDENLY BRIGHT OUT, Smith abandons the big picture and embraces a journey filled with specific, personal discoveries that he follows devotedly. Smith's dedication and curiosity bring to mind a less strident Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), and his method recalls the ingenuity a younger, tougher David Bowie. Smith has won recent acclaim for his avant-garde theatre work, and his literary roots rise to the surface in the album's rich, detailed lyrics - stories Smith populates variously with images of the night sky, visions of trust and betrayal, and dreams of flying. His knack for narrative structure is apparent in the album's pacing. Imagine PJ Harvey's post-punk blues yielding naturally to the aching lo-fi folk of Badly Drawn Boy. Structure is a necessity for Smith, who claims the eight songs on SUDDENLY BRIGHT OUT correspond directly to the eight hours between 11pm and 7am that he almost never sleeps. The album opens with STOP COMETS, one of several jagged riff-driven numbers. The melody clings stubbornly to a lean drum beat over which Smith declares, 'Every safe bet ends up worthless.' It's a theme that reoccurs throughout SUDDENLY BRIGHT OUT, extending even to the recording process. Smith played nearly all the instruments himself, and engineered most of the recording sessions as well. Exceptions were made on two tracks that include Dave Robinson (Drums-The Scabs) and George Reiff (Bass-Black Crowes' Chris Robinson). The album was mixed by Austin's 2004 'Producer of the Year', Lars Goransson (The Cardigans, Fastball, Shane Bartell). 'I wanted flexibility, you know? And part of that meant making the record alone, as much as possible. Plus I thought it ought to have a solitary feeling -- but I didn't necessarily want it to be spare, instrument wise.' And it isn't. SUDDENLY BRIGHT OUT enjoys a wide variety of sonic textures Throughout the course of the record Smith offers up several scenes of people waiting - for a solution, for their lover to return, and especially for the sun to rise, but the record's final image is perhaps the most interesting. After unpacking the contents of a recent dream, Smith sings of his desire to make it more real. The album's last lines read, 'On a full moon lit night sky/how I'd be so proud/if I could dance like this/aloud'. If Smith is waiting for a breakthrough to end his journey, he need not wait any longer. By the end of SUDDENLY BRIGHT OUT the sun's first light is sneaking through the clouds and he has, in fact, danced aloud. Sasha Kevlar.