"Life is so damn messy / Love is so unclean."
Former Heights resident Darden Smith doesn't do mindless little ditties or danceable two-steps, yet he's one of the giants of that field of indefinable endeavor known as Texas singer-songwriter. Circo finds Smith further exploring the box canyon (or circular cell, if you prefer) of love and cohabitation -- the maddening duality, lack of logic, and elements of chance and grace that accompany any relationship. "We make love so hard / Scratchin' at the old wounds, layin' blame / Callin' up the old ghosts, takin' names." Still, Smith's basic message is one of amazement that, despite it all, things can somehow work out, and love can be found inside our messy lives and superficial conflicts.
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With accompaniment from Lloyd Maines, Jim Lauderdale, Kim Richey, Shawn Colvin and a host of Austin and Nashville pickers, the album is much lighter than the subject matter might indicate. Tracks like "Hands on the Wheel" and "What Are We Gonna Do" are downright upbeat by Smith standards. Circo is intimate, immediate and accessible, and Smith's insight and craft make for an album that expands with each listen.