Seeking inspiration for this week’s preview, I pulled out Mindy Smith’s debut album, One Moment More from the winter of 2004. I hadn’t heard it in ages, and it rolls even sweeter now than it did when it shocked people with its quality upon its debut. It kicks off with the powerful “Come To Jesus” and concludes with an epic cover of (and outrageous duet with) Dolly Parton on “Jolene.” In between are nine more timeless songs that are hard to top for folk fusion laced with beauty and heart. The music is serene, but it also snaps; no muddy lethargy here. Mindy’s limpid voice could charm and beguile singing a German technical manual, but as it happens she writes lovely, inhabitable songs too. “One Moment More” will be a melancholy standard as long as she’s willing to perform it. No wonder she’s made armies of dedicated fans who swoon for a week before she comes to town and then throw bouquets, or at least write gushing Facebook comments in her wake.
So that puts us in swoony mode, as we await Mindy’s appearance on Roots this Wednesday. She’s been a bit off my radar recently, though I have seen her out and about in Nashville, so I was excited to see her coming our way and that she’s got a big run of shows around the country on her calendar. The most recent CD is the excellent Stupid Love, but that’s from 2009, so we’ll certainly be asking Mindy if there’s a new recording in the works. She has been talking about unveiling new music on her video blog, so maybe she’ll grace us with one or two of those.
And speaking of serene but moving songs, we’ll also be visited, for a second time, by Peter Bradley Adams, who comes from a very similar school of lushly textured Americana. He’s got brand new music that I’ve only sampled, but it sounds like an evolution and not a revolution in his sound. Adams was half of the refreshing mod-folk duo eastmountainsouth which had a bit of a run on a major label and helped new audiences discover the ancient magic of tunes like “Hard Times Come Again No More.” Peter is a whiz at landing songs in TV and movies, and his recent placements include shows Life Unexpected and One Tree Hill. But perhaps more immediately relevant for our audience is the new album from this summer called Between Us. We’re looking forward to hearing new stuff.
Also in the debut category, Nashville writer/artists Trent Dabbs and Amy Stroup have chosen Music City Roots as the best place to roll out their new duo/big band Sugar & the Hi-Lows. Trent is a veteran of the Ten out of Tenn collaborative and a fine, moody troubadour who, like Adams, has had tons of TV show song placements. Stroup is a celebrated songwriter who made Prairie Home Companion’s Top 20 Under 30 list and who also seems to be in the good graces of the music supervisors at Gray’s Anatomy and One Tree Hill. Their new band, they say, “features melodies that masterfully merge Americana’s rock and soul heritage with the band’s own unmatched, fresh sound. Lyrically, they channel a playful promise and familiar acceptance of life’s ups and downs and still remain firmly rooted in the reality of the here and now.” Sign us up.
And rounding things out will be seasoned veteran and Nashville musical force Billy Falcon, a guy who’s written songs for a wild array of artists from Cher to Bon Jovi to Trace Adkins. And bringing self-described “goodtime, eclectic bluegrass,” we’ll welcome Smokey’s Farmland Band from Atlanta. We’re hoping that they’ll be interested in joining us for some Ole Smoky Moonshine. A little of that and we’ll all be feeling serene.