Andy Smythe

Love Unspoken

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Love Unspoken isn't Andy Smythe's first full-length album, but it was definitely one of his most focused and consistent. The British singer/songwriter showed a great deal of potential on his previous album Changing Seasons and his self-titled debut EP of 1999; many of the creative pieces were in place, but he still had some growing and developing to do. On Love Unspoken, Smythe does some of his best writing -- and the end result is a creative step forward for the Shropshire native turned London resident. Smythe continues to favor the more contemplative, gently reflective side of folk-rock, and that approach serves him well whether he is providing lyrics that are melancholy ("Why Is Nothing Simple") or hopeful and optimistic ("Lucky Man," "Half Me, Half You"). Folk-rock, of course, doesn't have to be subtle, sweet, or gentle. New York singer/songwriter Lach and his colleagues in the anti-folk movement are known for combining folk-rock with punk's in-your-face aggression. But that certainly isn't where Smythe is coming from on Love Unspoken, which successfully draws on inspirations from both the United States and the British Isles. Smythe sings about Northern California on "San Francisco," but he fondly recalls his British upbringing on the sentimental "England in the Summer" -- and the Irish-flavored "Whiskey Priest" (originally heard on his 1999 debut) underscores Smythe's appreciation of Celtic music. So when all is said and done, Love Unspoken offers a far-reaching, broad-minded vision of folk-rock -- one that England, the U.S., Ireland, and Scotland have all contributed to. Smythe's previous releases, although mildly uneven, are generally enjoyable and worth obtaining, but if one is making his/her first Andy Smythe purchase, Love Unspoken would be the most logical and rewarding choice.

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