Since The Road to Ensenada in 1996, Lyle Lovett has released a collection of covers in 1998, a live album in 1999, a predominately instrumental soundtrack in 2000, and now, in 2003, Smile, a collection of songs he recorded for movie soundtracks between 1992 and 2002. None of these were on his official albums and none of them are originals (meaning that it's been nearly seven years since he's released a collection of new songs; this may or may not be a sign of writer's block). Most are covers of pop standards, with a couple of R&B and gospel standards thrown in for good measure (the one contemporary tune is "You've Got a Friend in Me," the Randy Newman duet from Toy Story). All are given perfectly tasteful, perfectly pleasant Large Band-styled arrangements; they're very faithful to the songs yet are styled to Lovett's idiosyncratic delivery. Overall, it's a nice listen and it's nice for collectors to get these all tunes in one place, but it's not essential and it's hard not to wish that Lovett would just finally do an album of new material already.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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