Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Micah Blue Smaldone

"Some Sweet Day" 2004

Some Sweet Day sounds like it was recorded in the twenties; its simple guitar-and-vocal compositions are attempts at rekindling the Jimmie Rodgers and Blind Blake sound - heck, there's even a cover of old-timey classic "In the Jailhouse Now." Smaldone has the bluesy acoustic guitar going, as well as the familiar country-folk vocals, and his compositions revel in the genre's best aspects - skillful plucking, mesmerizing melodies, and that indescribable sense of wholesomeness that enraptures the listener.
"Springtime Blues" is the song that grabs you first (partially because it's the first song, but also because it's bloody amazing) - it has a dreamy, bittersweet feel to it and a strange sort of timelessness. It may have been recorded just recently, but it stands up to some of country-folk's better songs. "My Angel's Wings" is another strongpoint, along with title-track "Some Sweet Day" (complete with yodeling) and the absolutely heartwarming "Boats up the River," a John Jackson cover. The record's instrumental tracks also impress - be it the playful "Ice Cream Socialist" or the curiously introspective "Pine Needle Rag." There aren't really any duds on Some Sweet Day - the only limiting factor is the listener's attention, which depends on his or her appreciation of old-timey country-folk music. For those lucky open-minded music fans, though, Micah Blue Smaldone's Some Sweet Day could become the type of record that gets you feeling good time and time again. (Matt Shimmer)

Sample pic: Click

"Hither and Thither" 2005

Micah and his Regal steel-bodied resonator return for another collection of olde tyme vaudevillian hootenanies that had me pining for a slow barge down the mighty Mississip’ listening to Leon Redbone’s greatest hits on a boom box. The fantastic element about his material is that they are all originals (save Jelly Roll Morton’s “New Orleans Bump”). So fans of the Roaring 20’s and Swinging 30’s of Nawlins’ jazz houses will certainly find a lot to like across these dozen denizens of the deep blue sea.

Smaldone can make his guitar do amazing things, such as replicate the tinny twang of a banjo on “Winter’s Truce” or the nostalgic ping of a harpsichord on the jolly opener “Swamp of the Swan,” which occasionally segues into an old familiar tune that I’ll let you figure out. Smaldone’s vocals on the sad lullabye “Cold Black Crepe” have the distinctive aura of having been recorded in a cavernous space such as a garage, basement, church or coffeeehouse. Thus, he made the correct critical decision to present the songs in a laid back, lo-fi atmosphere that’s perfect for the ragtimey feel to most of the tracks. The mastering by Harris Newman (a favorite who’s been reviewed in these pages before) treats the product with the care and attention that benefits these artefacts-styled recordings.

Smaldone’s voice drifts into a Jolson-like bellow for “More Than I Can Bear,” while his vibrattoed wail on the mournful “Sporting Sorrow Blues” will bring a tear to more than one listener’s eye. His guitar work here (and on “Funny Farm,” with it’s swaying melody and ascerbic delivery that Dylan fans will immediately recognize from “I Don’t Believe You”) still reminds me of Tiny Tim on the ukelele, an observation I also offered about his debut – a comparison that Micah vehemently denied. The delicate, ballet-styled minuet of “Summerbelle, Winterbelle” brings back fond memories of Stephen Foster and strolling through Disney’s theme park rendition of old time Americana or down the streets of Mayberry, offering head nods and tips of the hat to Sheriff Andy Taylor, Floyd the Barber and Goober and Gomer Pyle.

If nothing else, Smaldone is a master at recreating a kinder, gentler America – free of wars, hatred and unpronouncable, incurable ailments and diseases. This is front porch sittin’ and backyard barbecuin’ Americana for the masses. So don your best Sunday duds and get out on the dancefloor for the “Tatterdemalion Stomp,” which has got to be easier to do than pronounce! Smaldone tackles the aforementioned “New Orleans Stomp” with all the dexterity and aplomb of Jorma at the peak of his powers. A vast improvement on the debut, “Hither and Thither” is highly recommended to fans of Redbone, acoustic Hot Tune and the old fashioned Americana of Stephen Foster and Scott Joplin. (Jeff Penczak)

Micah Blue Smaldone as Joey Ramone


Anonymous Sins We Can't Absolve said...

Does anybody know the song he played in the video posted by Lizardson?

15 December, 2006 02:41  
Blogger Lizardson said...

Ramones - "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World"

15 December, 2006 02:51  
Anonymous Sins We Can't Absolve said...

Thanks a lot liz ;)

15 December, 2006 20:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thx a lot!
a very good unknow artist
i love the cover

29 September, 2007 21:03  

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