Jan Smith

29 Dances

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A quick glance at the simple photograph of Jan Smith on 29 Dances provides a preview of the music to follow: down to earth, acoustic, and without pretension. The instrumental backdrop of the opener, "James River," hints at bluegrass, with acoustic guitars, mandolin, and banjo, while the poetic lyric and lovely harmony lean toward sophisticated folk. "Your Mamma Don't Care" follows, and covers similar territory. Smith is a good singer who delivers her songs in a natural, easygoing style, though her range is limited. She utilizes superb harmony singers on 29 Dances, most expressively on the first track, though Jeff Vogelgesang and Patty Mitchell add a nice balance to songs like "Willow Tree." The album's mostly acoustic arrangements provide the album with a firm underpinning, though Smith and company vary the pacing quite a bit from song to song to keep things interesting. Randy Kohrs' resonator work on "Depend on My Love" brings the right touch to this emotion-filled song, while Johnny Hiland's spunky acoustic guitar picking adds lots of get-up-and-go to "Woman Your Guitar." Another nice thing about 29 Dances is Smith's writing, striking a balance between tuneful melodies and solid lyrics. With good songs, solid picking, and simple vocals, Smith's 29 Dances is an enjoyable release.

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