Mindy Smith - Live in Asheville, N.C.

Grey Eagle Tavern and Music Hall 2/22/04

Music Reviews Mindy Smith
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Mindy Smith - Live in Asheville, N.C.

Turns out Mindy Smith is funny. Even though her debut, One Moment More, is rife with seriousness—loss, spirituality, determination—her inner comedian surfaced at Asheville, N.C.’s Grey Eagle Tavern and Music Hall.

Just after 9 p.m. the petite singer/songwriter takes the club’s ply-board stage, accompanied by her mandolin player, Lex Price. As the two are about to dive into the 13-song, one-hour set, Smith realizes her guitar is out of tune.

“We had this last night, too,” she says. “It’s part of the show.” The 150-plus crowd chuckles slightly. Smith knows she has to say something, so she calls the situation what it is: “Awkward Silence.”

Freshly tuned guitar in hand, Smith lets it all loose on the gritty “Hard to Know.” Her crystalline voice pierces the smoke and chattiness floating from the restaurant in the back. The quiet intensity of “Hurricane” quickly hushes any surviving background noise and, from this moment on, Smith has the audience in her world.

The poignant “Raggedy Ann” was easily the set’s highlight. Smith steadied her guitar, closed her eyes, and for five minutes relived her insecurities – lacing them with imagery of physical appearance meant to symbolize her inner struggles:

And tears that I have covered with patches

Of red and yellow patterns, nothing I own matches

Where I have it sewn with black stitches

Remains to be soiled and tattered

The audience lived Smith’s experiences with her as she admitted to being the awkward person in the song. “I’m okay with it, man,” she assured them.

The remainder of the evening was a mix of album cuts, but Smith had a few surprises up her tight, black sleeve—including a trio of new tunes that whet fan’s appetites for a new album. “Cure for love” played like a childhood fantasy, while “Tin Can” was an ode to what Smith called a “stupid man.” Half serious/half joking, she insisted, “I’m not bitter.”

The most moving of the new songs, “Don’t Mind Me,” included simple lyrics that pinpointed the anxiety and indecisiveness of being alone:

I need some time alone

Don’t wait for me

to waste your time and mine

My hell’s breaking loose

I don’t know what to do

Don’t wait for me

After a tender “One Moment More,”—which Smith wrote about her mother, who died of cancer in 1991—she left the stage the same way she began, with a no holds barred rip: this time through the album’s powerful first single, “Come to Jesus.”

“Thanks for your time,” she said. “I know it’s a school night.”

But the audience wasn’t ready to give her up just yet. Before Smith could get back to the microphone, a man in the back shouted, “Jolene!” Smith obliged, taking hold of the Dolly Parton-penned classic as if she’d been performing it since its birth in the early 70s.

Smith isn’t short on personality and, though young, is already an experienced performer. However, what she does best is let her emotion—through her impeccable songwriting—be the loudest voice. She closed the show with the sweet “Falling,” singing, “Something about you pulls me in.”

And for the audience at the Grey Eagle, many of whom were previously unfamiliar with her music, Mindy Smith did just that.

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