Titled in tribute to her father, Debi Smith's second Shanachie release, Red Bird Red, is a thoughtful, powerful record for adults, stylishly produced by Ronn Price and wonderfully performed by an impressive ensemble of Nashville regulars, including guitarist Pat Buchanan and mandolin/fiddle player Tammy Rogers. Smith's writing is always good and often deeply moving. Emotionally and musically rich songs like "Red Bird Red," "God Help Us," "Niagara Falls," and "Slipping Away," written with Tom Paxton, focus on topics that really matter, whether Smith is invoking her father's favorite saying, recalling a first love, or breathing life into a faded picture of her grandparents. Often spiritual, her well-crafted songs celebrate personal renewal, family and community, and the sanctity of love from generation to generation, but also consider the fleetness of youth, the ravages of time, and the finality of loss. As expected, Smith's three-octave voice is joy to listen to, both on her folk-pop ballads and rock & rollers, such as the Cajun-flavored "Chevy Impala." The operatic closer, Puccini's O Mio Babino Caro, in tribute to her son, reveals the depth of her powers.
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AllMusic Review by William Meyer