Matt Smith is a hell of a guitar player; his clean, jazzy chords and scorching lead lines were a hallmark of his bygone band The Betty Ford Experience. But he’s also a capable songwriter and balladeer.
What: Matthew Smith and Friends
Where: Conundrum Music Hall, 626 Meeting St.
When: Sunday, May 4, 7 p.m.
Price: $10 (includes CD), $5 under 16 (no CD)
More Info: conundrum.us
Acoustic ballads make up the entirety of the lo-fi Bedtime Stories. There’s an inviting hiss that evokes memories of Tascam four-tracks without dulling the brassy brightness of the acoustic guitars. It’s an effect that’s played up effectively on the dreamy title track, which layers jangly chords and winsome melodies over grainy snippets from what are either answering machines or late-night infomercials. The closing “Say Goodbye” works similarly, pairing a close-mic’d nylon-string guitar with roomy steel-string strums and a whispery vocal line. Other cuts are indebted to radio-ready but left-leaning pop from the late ’80s and early ’90s: “U & Luck” evokes Big Country with its ping-ponging delayed melody lines. “Long Lines” drifts lazily like The Sundays until its halftime coda — though the “First you rewind / Then you’re unkind” reference is egregiously dated.
As was the case with Betty Ford, Smith’s voice is a love-it-or-leave-it proposition; his quirky vocal mannerisms often assuaged by his songs’ kinetic energy. It hindered some of Betty Ford’s ballads, and it’s an occasional detriment on Stories. But there are times, as on “Say Goodbye” and the vampy “By the Fire,” when his charming earnestness supersedes his vocal limitations.
Bedtime Stories is a pleasant listen, but too many songs share similar chord progressions and drift to the same swaying tempos, giving an unfortunate sense of déjà vu to some of the disc’s second-half tracks (particularly “Words of a Song”). These modestly adorned cuts mostly sound like demos, sketches waiting to be filled in by other component players.
Relaxation, Pain Management, and Stress Relief
Licensed massage therapist Allison Morris of AMR Massage offers 50% off your first session and every 5th session free of charge. Click here for location, hours, and more information.
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
This Week @ Social
Edward Shouse performs Friday the 21st, and on Saturday Absolut Vodka presents A Night in Sweden, with specialty Absolut drinks and live music by Christian Slick. Follow us!
A Re-Imagined Christmas Carol at Trustus
Watch as five actors perform all the characters of Charles Dickens’ classic story and create a live musical score in a production that had audiences and critics raving last year. Get your tickets here!
Surreal Innovation Salon Now Open
Columbia’s newest total care spa is now taking appointments and offering $10 off services $25 or more for first time clients. Location, hours, and more info here.
Going someplace cool this weekend?
Let The Backpacker help you go lightweight, comfortable and in style! Patagonia, Prana, Merrell, The North Face and more! Click for location, hours and more info.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Holiday Wish ListWhere to shop for gift ideas in Columbia this season: