On the face of this CD, the appropriately named Sad Brad Smith would appear to be a college kid finishing his high school cycle by harking back to elementary years. That is, there's a deceptive simplicity to Love is not What You Need's collection of songs that wouldn't be out of place on Sesame Street, were that show devoted to downers and bummers, though the range sometimes even seems to tread toward a dejected South Seas isle repertoire of old folkish paeans. Thus, the hinky cartoon cover is germane while perhaps not the best marketing device, lacking eye appeal almost to a nervous invisibility. The same cannot be said for the music, though.
I suppose one could place this in the new 'weird folk' genre, as it won't fit comfortably anywhere else—nor even there, for that matter, and this is what begins to catch the ear. What the heck is this guy doing? We are Free is perhaps a perfect evocation, a cut sliding between cabaret, loosey-goosey roots music, demented folk, and soft rock with a genetic anomaly. Bad Mood follows, commencing in a warped circus tempo while carrying the amorphous borderlines further South amid ever more sophisticated bric-a-brac. Not that any of this is overtly noticeable, mind you; things just kinda creep up and sneak in the ear and brain.
Smith contributed a song, Help Yourself, to the 2009 Jason Reitman film Up in the Air and zoomed from anonymity to a "Who the heck is he?" status of semi-quasi-para-fame, and it's not difficult to see why a director in search of unique music would land on the guy. One could loosely lump Smith in with Presidents of the United States, Barenaked Ladies, and Ween, but that wouldn't serve justice, because, in just one instance, Sure is a dead ringer for a Ray Davies / Kinks tune circa Celluloid Heroes. Thus, my only advice is to scamper on over to his webpage and listen to the songs. Don't expect to be gobsmacked, but if you feel an insidious delight sneaking up on ya, then you've synched in to whatever it is this peculiar gent is doing.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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