Smith's music reveals an artist continually evolving, flexing and growing into her sound. An earlier release, "Little Wind," skewed folksy, while her most current work, "Half About Being a Woman," is a poppy blend of blue-eyed soul and indie rock. A PBS documentary, "My Way Back Home," allowed a glimpse into the process of her transition through various genres, and back again.
Despite, or perhaps because of, Smith's disparate influences and tastes, her vocals and catchy melodies form the core of every song. Her sweet alto calls to mind other offbeat singer-songwriters such as Sallie Ford, Dar Williams and Michelle Shocked, which puts her in very good company. Playing her three albums back to back, one is pleasantly surprised at her versatility. With songs ranging from indie rock to neo-soul, she could front a band at a mountain folk festival or be-bop in a studio alongside Boys II Men.
The songs in this live performance are all from "Half About Being a Woman" and they find Smith exploring the familiar, but bumpy, road that leads from youth to womanhood. Whether offering songs that sound happy, but offer rueful commentary on societal expectations, or embracing her femininity, or accenting sexy love songs with jazz piano, this is the sound of a woman coming into her own. It's also a sound that makes you wonder what in the world she's going to do next.
All photos by Abby Gillardi