[5 January 2009]
Are four songs and just under 11 minutes enough to tag an artist with the “rising star” label? In the case of Meaghan Smith and her EP, The Cricket’s Quartet , the answer is yes. Paying attention to Smith now would be a wise move; pretty soon, the opportunities to claim “I liked her before…” will be at a premium.
Smith is a throwback to a time when the power and purity of a singular voice was well-appreciated. Album opener “I Know” sets the pace, establishing Smith as a contemporary torch-bearer for jazz vocalists from half a century ago. The song’s use of mellotron, clarinet and whistling lend an easy, effortless feel; the track would not feel out-of-place if included in a black-and-white love story. In fact, The Cricket’s Quartet as a whole has an understated old-school cinematic flair. “If You Asked Me,” for example, is a gently swinging tune that benefits from great horn parts and an active vibraphone. The song is the soundtrack to every fast-paced club scene from an old Hollywood music.
That’s not to say that Smith embraces the past at the expense of innovation. Track two, “A Little Love” opens with Smith singing breezily, brightly over the plucked strings of a harp; the middle of the song, however, finds superstar DJ Kid Koala executing a tricky maneuver: making the turntable a jazz instrument. Smith closes the EP with the pretty “Drifted Apart”, a country-flavored tale of heartbreak, the story of classy East Coast girl-meets-West Coast man and finds it hard to keep the flame alive.
Smith is clearly on an upward trajectory and any impending full-length should be met with great anticipation.