Friday, February 19, 2010

Album Review: April Smith And The Great Picture Show - Songs For A Sinking Ship

Retro, sassy, fun and quirky, those are the words that spring to mind when listening to the new record by April Smith and the Great Picture Show. Songs For A Sinking Ship, for all of it's whimsical fun is a sophisticated work piece of work.

Smith has all of the ingredients to make a top notch album and that's just what she did. There is good songwriting, good musicians and killer vocals. One minute Smith is swinging, the next she's doing a torch song, the next she's pulling off a 40's style "girl" singer song. There are a wealth of instruments and good old fashioned hand claps on the record to the create the delightfully retro sound. There's organ, horns, accordion, Mellotron, suitcases, ukulele and did I hear a kazoo? Did I?

The assertive "Dixie Boy" turns Smith into a bluesy bitch issuing a warning to keep your hands off her man. In "Beloved" she turns in a sad, sweet song of longing where she declares, "if I cannot have the real thing, I'll gladly settle for your ghost." And, the song that first brought Smith to my attention, "Wow and Flutter," finds her sexy and sassy. This song leaves me with the urge to get up and Jive, perhaps Jitterbug or just simply do a good old fashioned stomp 'n' clap combined with the good time feeling, finger in the air wag about, while swaying and turning around the room.

She dishes up a good dose of sarcasm in "Drop Dead Gorgeous" ... "cause if you're just drop dead gorgeous, you should just drop dead." Ah, nothing like a warm and fuzzy dose of sarcasm issued to a vapid creature. While listening to the opening track, "Movie Loves A Screen," there's a moment during the song that I'm reminded of the Arlen/Harburg penned "I Love To Singa."

The closing song, "Stop Wondering," is a delightful song. It's sweet violin and cello filled music gives you visions of Sandra Dee like girls sitting in window seats, in pretty pastel colored dresses, smelling big colorful flowers. That of course is until you get to the lyrics that kindly inform a castaway paramour to stop wondering if she's sitting around wasting time thinking about him. She's not. And, to make sure the point is clear, Smith ends the song with the terrific line, "if you ever wonder, if I'm dreaming of you ... bitch please, I've got better things to do."

Songs For A Sinking Ship is a well put together record. If I had to go down with the ship, preferably in some synchronized Esther Williams type routine, this would be the soundtrack to my demise.

Track Listing

  • Movie Loves A Screen
  • Terrible Things
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous
  • Can't Say No
  • What'll I Do
  • Colors
  • Dixie Boy
  • The One That Got Away
  • Beloved
  • Wow And Flutter
  • Stop Wondering
MP3 Grab: "Colors"