IndieMinded Album Review

The Sum Of Life by Scott Smith.


Growing up in the Bay Area, California singer-songwriter Scott Smith was constantly exposed to music and artistic souls. “There was so much happening musically living in the Bay Area at that time. It was very alive.” So when Smith decided to get serious about writing and recording his own LP four years ago, he found that geography had blessed him with access to an incredibly talented pool of musician friends. In short time, Smith was able to bring aboard violin virtuoso David LaFlamme, acoustic guitarist Nina Gerber, pianist Mitch Woods, drummer Vic Carberry, keyboardist Giovanni Imbesi, and vocalist Gailene Elliot to help fine tune his first release. The result is an awe inspiring display of musicianship to complement Smith’s natural Americana blues style which, when combined, creates quite a unique listening experience on Smith’s 11 track debut release The Sum of Life, available now.

The Sum of Life opens with its title track and it is safe to assume no one will see this one coming. An absolutely beautiful instrumental piece highlighting LaFlamme on violin and Gerber on acoustic guitar, “The Sum of Life” paints a picture with its music and sets a mood. But as the opening track, the mood it sets is deceptive as the next track, “Eclipsing Moon,” is much more representative of the release in general. From the second the keyboard blares, you will know you are in for quite the upcoming ride. Smith’s guitar playing and vocals, supported by his long time coach Elliot, mix well with the keyboards to produce a head shaking, toe tapper of a track.

Smith continues to push the pace on the energetic “Blues Guitar Slinger.” Elliot continues her work on back up helping to balance Smith’s vocals a bit while he continues to hit it out of the park with his distinct style on guitar. “Payday” is a hilarious song about the drudgery and monotony of the work week, the kind of song you can imagine doing a line dance to in a country bar on a Friday night with a beer in hand. There continues to be solid guitar work here but being left alone on vocals tends to highlight where Smith’s strengths lie. “Bad Dreams” is a typical country track that takes things down slightly pace wise. A song about moving forward and looking to the future for sunnier days, “Bad Dreams” sees LaFlamme return on violin which works well together with the other elements to create a pretty unique sound.

The mid-point of The Sum of Life sees Smith reflecting on his personal life with “The Best Gift.”     A ballad dedicated to his children, “The Best Gift” is a reflective piece with sentimental lyrics and violin components that accent the emotionality of the track. Guitars and percussion drive “Determination,” as Smith sings about being “determined” to win someone over. “Turn Out the Lights” is highlighted by its continuous, pulsating guitar riff. Elliot once again adds greatly to the vocals and overall, “Turn Out the Lights” has some strong harmony and melodies that stay with you as the song fades. “The World is Strange” brings the energy back on this fun, piano heavy track that looks at how insane everything, everywhere is becoming. How can you not love a song with lyrics such as “The Lord’s gone away/He ain’t comin’ back/He’s on his way to Vegas in a new Cadillac?”

The Sum of Life begins to wrap up with “Over It Soon.” Continuing to blend blues and country, “Over It Soon” is another quick paced track that will have you up and dancing. Like most good, uptempo, country influenced songs, this one manages to create a feel good vibe despite the lyrics which are about a guy who is hung up on a woman and his friends would kindly like him to “get over it soon.” Closing out The Sum of Life on a high note is “Messing With Reality.” The quick paced culmination of everything Smith had been relaying throughout the release is the perfect end to his debut effort.

Scott Smith’s full length debut The Sum of Life is an 11 track concept type album that also manages to be a masterclass in musicianship. Drawing on older musical influences such as The Grateful Dead, The Beatles, Cream and The Rolling Stones, while staying true to his own Americana-country blues base, Scott Smith manages to develop a newer sounding style all his own.

Keep up with Scott Smith at the following links:

Website | Reverbnation | Facebook | @scottsmithband