Mindy Smith

Stupid Love

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After the tasteful Southern-accented and acoustic-leaning sound of Mindy Smith's first two albums, Stupid Love finds her dipping her toes into something closer to contemporary pop. Smith is a long, long way from transforming herself into Taylor Swift, but the snappy rhythms and percolating basslines on "Highs and Lows" and "Love Chases After Me" are a good bit more radio-friendly than Smith's earlier work, and "What Love Can Do" recalls the muscular grace of classic era Fleetwood Mac, suggesting that she's eager to play to a broader audience than she has in the past. Ian Fitchuk and Justin Loucks produced Stupid Love with Smith, and while they've dressed up the arrangements and added just a touch of polish to the recording and mix, thankfully Smith herself seems little changed by the new surroundings; her voice is as supple and gracefully balanced as ever, and the 13 songs she wrote (or co-wrote) for the album are literate and emotionally honest stuff, even if broken hearts and alcoholic self-medication pop up fairly often in the lyrics (though her duet with Daniel Tashian on "True Love of Mine" finds her in more contented form). However, while Stupid Love's best moments show she can move her music in different directions and make it work, the arrangements and production too often cover the same ideas over and over, and the album sounds a bit bland and repetitive as a result. It doesn't have to, since the songs generally sound as tuneful and well-crafted as her earlier work, but Stupid Love sounds curiously chicken-hearted when it reaches for its pop gestures, a shame since the songs where she pushes hardest in that direction are the ones that succeed the most.

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