Doug Smith

Deep Heart

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    7
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This acoustic guitarist's warm-hearted, intricate yet simple, complex yet accessible debut should be the textbook example of how to produce a big sound with minimal instrumentation without the need for synthesized trickery. Much like Tuck Andress or Stanley Jordan, who could build a musical fortress out of six strings, Smith begins with a limber, double-fisted rhythm and melody approach on his acoustic. Often, that and little whims are all he needs to create an utterly hypnotic effect. But on occasion, he'll toss in some reverb on Duncan Moore's drum or extend Chris Vitas' violin for an atmosphere that extends beyond a small chamber. Ronn Satterfield's keyboard enhancements come in handy as well. But more often than not, Smith keeps the attention focused on his almost-circular string style, which expands upon original melodies with a jazzy folk flair. His original compositions will grow on you, but until they do, it is easiest to focus on his arrangements of a perfect choice of covers, "Nights in White Satin," "Ebb Tide," "I Swear," and "I Only Have Eyes for You." If simplicity with a big sound is what Smith was after, he succeeded. On the other hand, the sparseness may take some getting used to for casual listeners who need a familiar drum program, sax, or soundscape to gain full enjoyment of their contemporary jazz.

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