When the Anniversary spilt in 2004 after their excellent album Your Majesty, its members shot off in all sorts of directions. Keyboardist/vocalist Adrianne Verhoeven sang with indie rockers Fourth of July and teamed with Orenda Fink in Art in Manila but also worked under the alias Dri. Casting aside the indie rock and emo of her past, she jumps headfirst into a warm and hazy neo-soul sound that may seem like a mistake on paper but in headphones, it's a brilliant move. Dri's vocals were always sweet and clear but on Smoke Rings she proves herself to be surprisingly soulful. Singing over elastic beats and warped loops provided by producers Josh Powers, Say My Name, Nezbeat, and 1,000,000 Light Years, she sounds perfectly in her element whether slinking through the laid-back summer jams "You Know I Tried" and "What's Real," crooning sadly on "Two Are One," or getting kind of funky on "Hot as Hades." She even sounds convincing as a disco-pop diva on the glittering "Free Tonight," which is the kind of sultry and inviting song you wish Madonna still made. Verhoeven's transformation into a soul singer is seamless and Smoke Rings is the kind of album that gets overlooked at the time but will thrill those who stumble upon it looking for an alternative to the Ronson-ites and their classicist brand of retro-soul.
Smoke Rings Review
by Tim Sendra