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Darden Smith Playbill

I'd heard of

Darden Smith

for years but never seen him or given him a fair listen. His reputation preceded him; my impression was of a wan, mopey, earnest, trying-so-hard-to-be-meaningful balladeer. That all changed when I got a dose of

Sunflower (2002).

It certainly wasn't party music, but Smith definitely had something out of the ordinary, something deeply soulful and brilliantly thoughtful that separated him from the rest of the Texas music schtick. In 2004,

Circo

confirmed this in spades. While both of these albums took long turns in my CD player, it is Smith's current release

Field of Crows

that has turned me into a full-fledged fan.

Like

Randy Weeks'

brilliant

Sugarfinger

and

Jon Dee Graham's

brooding

Full

,

Field of Crows

ranks up there with the best roots music of 2006. Like Weeks and Graham, Smith conjures painfully recognizable, entirely believable characters, and he invents plots and lines that are 100% adult. There may be no more heartbreaking divorce song in 2006 than

"Mary"

("There's no time to run and play / It's your mother's wedding day") and no better love song than

"Satisfied."

Smith's work is chock full of

Eric Taylor

qualities and reaches an emotional depth few approach. -

William Michael Smith

Darden Smith performs Thursday, December 7, at Mc Gonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 713-528-5959. Mark Erelli also performs.


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