Mindy Smith is trying to break into one hell of a hard industry: country-folk crossover. She has the song writing chops and balls bigger than any hat act out there. She is not afraid to take on difficult or unpopular subjects, as evidenced by the original spiritual that opens the disc. "Come to Jesus" is not your typical contemporary Christian song a la Michael W. Smith. It is dangerous and menacing, performed in a minor key with a muddy lap steel guitar. Smith juxtaposes the serious emotional vortex set up by this challenging music against the following words:
Oh my baby, when you’re cryin’
Never hide your face from me
I have conquered Hell and driven out the demons
I have come with the light to set you free...
"Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord" indeed.
That said, the disc is worth its price for this cut alone. The mood does not get this dark again until cut ten, "Hard to Know," where the tremolo on the electric guitar summons the polar opposite of "Come to Jesus." The protagonist of "Hard to Know" is determined to do everything herself, knowing that she cannot:
Sometimes it’s hard to know
That you need to be saved
‘Til you hit bottom
And rattle that cage
Sometimes you just gotta keep
Until you breakthrough
To the light of day.
The remainder of the disc is made up of finely crafted and well-produced songs—harder than Shawn Colvin and Allison Krauss and lighter (and more serious) than Shania Twain and Faith Hill. Ms. Smith’s voice is pure alto, even in timbre and certain in intonation. Her subject matter is not the silly drivel of the popular artist; it deals with struggle, anxiety, and apocalyptic renewal, as expressed in the ballad "Hurricane":
I need a hurricane to ravage through this place
I think it’s the only way
To salvage any sense I have left
To move on.
Mindy Smith deserves to be heard, and heard loudly.
For more information, see Mindy Smith and Vanguard Records .