We've followed the rise of Brooklyn's April Smith & The Great Picture Show for a few years now, catching her striking live performances from Philly to Austin and listening as her sound has evolved from hearty and hooky indie rock to a more distinctive theatrical mix of sassy and swinging retro pop, raggedy ragtime and what April calls "vocally-driven-cinemelodic rock". With a voice that swoops and soars with reckless but pitch perfect abandon, Smith transcends contemporary borders with a jaunty beat, carnival organ, and jangling guitar edge melded to a daring vocal intensity. Think a feminine Gene Pitney meeting Tom Waits at a honky-tonk cabaret.
Songs for a Sinking Ship, arriving February 23, is light years beyond Smith's promising '05 debut with a maturity and focused musical vision that has come together in a style that's all her own. Lead track "Colors" sums up in under 3 minutes what's at work (and play) here: a sharply etched, classic-styled melody, bouncy rock beat and a voice that struts and saunters. And did we mention the warbly kazoo-ish solo? “When things sound too perfect, it’s too contrived for me," says the diminutive Smith. "You need a little dirt, a little f---up that puts you in that moment.” Recommended.
April Smith - "Colors" (demo from the album Songs For A Sinking Ship)
April Smith - "Terrible Things" (demo from the album Songs For A Sinking Ship)