Margot Smith

Immersion Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Despite my coming into your home or office each day and ranting about such and such group or album, there's still a lot about music that I don't think I will ever understand. I'll never understand how a label can botch the promotion of an artist's best album ever to the point where the disc is considered a failure. I'll never understand why certain types of music take off in popularity, then die.

And, in the case of Australian singer/songwriter Margot Smith, I'll never understand how someone can totally eschew the commercialistic trappings of music and release an album that is not only from the heart, but is fun to listen to as well. Such is the case with her most recent album my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Taste.

With the help of Steve Kilbey - best known for his work with The Church - Smith streaks through 14 songs in what seems like a few minutes. For Smith, the art of songwriting is simple: Say what you have to, then move on to the next piece. It's an interesting concept that would never last more than a second in the offices of the major labels, where if the song isn't four minutes long, it's not worth thinking about. But it's a concept that works well for Smith in the context of Taste.

It's not that Smith is incapable of writing songs that would fit on the radio. Tracks like "Fight It Out In Heaven" and "Bleedmore" have that special twinkle to them that are poppy enough to fall under radio's umbrella.

But what sets Smith apart is the raw, melancholic honesty that pours from her songs. Tracks like "Hope" ("I hope you choke / Your dreams go up in smoke / You regret the words you spoke / Like I do"), "Creature" and "Everything" ("All my dreams are made up of thousands of / dreams torn from somebody else's life") carry a powerful punch that is sure to move the listener.

Sure, we've had our share of raw emotion female singers of late, like Liz Phair. (Part of me wanted to compare Smith to Ani DiFranco, but the musical styles are not similar.) But Smith doesn't seem to be concerned about whether her single will hit the top of the charts; it's almost like the music is therapy to her, and each song a particular demon being exorcised.

It's a quick listen, but not always an easy one. Still, Taste is worth searching out (it has yet to be released in America), and suggests that these shores will be hearing more from Smith in the very near future.

Rating: B+

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Immersion Records, and is used for informational purposes only.