Sonny Smith’s record Fruitvale has stood up better than many other releases from 2007. That’s probably because the words are poetry dressed up as lyrics, the songs could be award winning 4 minute plays and the music is a perfect compliment of troubadour soul. Here’s the first of several posts I made about the record:
I still get a huge rush discovering something new that I love and that I hope others will love, Sonny Smith (MySpace) easily goes down as one of my favorite finds. Others are excited as I am. It seems his record label, Belle Sound, was started solely to get Sonny Smith’s new record, Fruitvale, out to a larger market. The label is somehow related to the great Chuck Prophet (I think he “owns” it since the label’s previous releases were Green On Red collectibles).
“The characters in Sonny’s songs are so real, don’t be surprised if they crawl out of your speakers and bum your last smoke off you. I wouldn’t wish running a label on my worst enemy. Sonny is so good I had no choice.” (Chuck Prophet)
Sonny’s previous albums have been concept records (one a series of one act plays, another made up of songs about broken love). The new one is also a loose concept record with all the songs based on his neighborhood of Fruitvale within the city of Oakland. “Curtis On The Corner” is a microcosm of the entire album writ small. In one song you get plenty of imagery about the neighborhood of Fruitvale (“2 bird cages on a windowsill”, “a singing butcher at the grocery store”, “a pit bull singing to a police siren”, and “a dead bottle rocket on my front porch”), and also a sense of the folk troubadour sound found throughout. I hear a kind of roughed up Paul Simon (circa “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard”) meets a woozy and now urban Townes Van Zandt. Guests on the record include Leroy Bach (Wilco), Dave Hilliard (David Byrne), Mathew Luz (Azita) and three of the most fabulous Chicago singers ever – Nora O’Connor, Edith Frost and Kelly Hogan.
I’m so not surprised that Sonny has dates coming up with David Dondero and Neko Case. Here’s a couple of dates:
Wednesday 28th at Park West in Chicago with Neko Case
Sunday April 15th at Make-Out Room
PRE-ORDER this April 17th release here and save two bucks.
Curtis On The Corner
Bonus songs from 2005′s One Act Plays:
Eddie and Rita
Weird Fantasy/Strange Adventure
“Rothko Chapel” from David Dondero’s 2007 release Simple Love