Long Island Shores Label: Vanguard Records
On the surface, little dynamo Mindy Smith is a singer/songwriter who came along a few years too late for Lilith Fair. But hey, that’s not her fault. And even as the likes of Sheryl Crow and Jewel are growing older and more tired, it’s the more traditional artists like Smith that are beginning to get recognized, and for good reason. The reason is that she writes songs and delivers them in a way that makes you feel like she’s singing to you or about you. And she’s got one of those warm, full voices that will remind you most of the time of Patty Griffin, and the rest of the time Lisa Loeb or even the legendary Patsy Cline.
Smith’s second album, Long Island Shores, is the follow-up to 2004’s One Moment More, a debut that catapulted her into critics’ darling status and girl next door all at the same time. Long Island Shores is more of the soft, twangy, heartfelt folk/pop that were prominent on Smith’s debut, but with a few more bells and whistles, as well as the mark of maturity that comes with being two years older and wiser. She’s also got a damn convincing falsetto.
The first single, “Out Loud,” grabs you from the moment Smith opens her sweet voice, and makes you feel like you’re driving across the plains with the sun coming up, as if going somewhere you want to be but for now are content to let the music envelop you. “Please Stay” is more of the same, and Smith’s gift for melody cuts through as well as some really slick guitar work. And she sings equally well on country shuffles like “You Know I Love You Baby” or “I’m Not the Only One Asking,” and on pretty introspective ballads like “You Just Forgot.” There’s also a really cool duet with label mate Shawn Mullins, “What If the World Stops Turning?” The title track is an ode to Smith’s Long Island, New York upbringing, and is proof that she can tell a story almost as well as she can sing about it.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Mindy Smith is about as cute as they come, further reason to incur a wrath of jealousy from the leathery Crow or snaggle-toothed Jewel. But that’s just a fringe benefit to you guys out there, because once you hear Long Island Shores, you’ll forget where you are and what you were doing. And that is the mark of a truly compelling artist.