These Things Wrapped - Leslie Smith
I've been spending a bit of time with Leslie Smith's CD "These Things Wrapped" (Waterbug WBG 0015). I've needed that time to absorb the new paradigm that Ms. Smith represents in the lower constructs of my aesthetic psyche: it just never occurred to me that anyone who could sing country well enough to remind me of Emmylou Harris could also write songs that cut as deeply as my first memories of Joni Mitchell. Darleen Wilson uses the talents of such luminaries as Johnny Cunningham, Duke Levine, John McGann, Matt Glaser and Ben Wittman to create a production that is both rich and transparent enough to let Ms. Smith's extraordinary art shine through. The resulting collaboration is tough and demanding rather than flashy, but ultimately brilliant, and quite thrilling even to a guy whose ears are as jaded as mine are these days: this is a much nobler work than the stuff that thinks of "acoustic music" as a sort of "pop lite". It's humbling that it took me this long to get it, but this is a major killer recording: who knows, maybe too good for the current marketplace, but just good enough for the ages.
Disclaimer: I'm neither on Darleen Wilson's payroll nor Andrew Calhoun's, although I'm quite fond of them both, and proud of them for getting the work of Ms. Smith(whom I've never met) before the public.