Menu | Rating System | Guest Book | Archived Reviews:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

  Sees All Knows All
  Sonny Smith
  Empty Cellar  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:

This is an interesting release, but it really might not be for everyone. This is basically a short story that San Francisco songwriter Sonny Smith tells while a band plays behind him. It is spoken word with light folk-rock behind it. I know that, for some people, the phrase "spoken word with light folk-rock behind it" describes a level of hell. I understand, really i do, but i think that there is something here.

Smith has a way with words, a real sense of wordplay. And he speaks the words with a faint drawl, more of a long western mountain drawl than the sharp tang of the Southern drawl, but it lends a certain honesty to his story.

Itís not bad, but i have to admit that i find it hard to focus on anything but the story he is telling. That is, music is often in the background, there to add an accent layer to life, to accentuate whatever else you are doing. This record demands attention -- i guess it is the spoken nature of it, the regular diction that draws the mind as if Sonny Smith is talking to you, directly, while a singing voice is a little easier to flatten into the background music layer of life. What i mean by that is: this is anti-ambient music. You canít just put it on and do other things.

It's more like an audio book than an album. Having the various tracks of this on your Phone and playing them in random order would be kind of disorienting. But i think that there is a place for this sort of thing.

There is not really much point in my describing the music here. You already heard all that you need to hear and all i could do from this point is spoil the story for you. But the story is kind of funny and enjoyable.

In finishing up this review i finally though of a comparison: the old Arlo Guthrie classic. Itís the same sort of thing -- a long rambling kind of story with some folkish music in the background. Alice's Restaurant has been around long enough that you should know if this kind of thing will give you hives. If Arlo repulses you, you probably want to stay away from this.

So: this is an audiobook, with music, that is kind of like old classic 1960s folk stuff. And itís a pleasant, if somewhat demanding, listen. I find that if i am listening and trying to do something else, i might focus away from the music for a minute, then come back to find my place in the story lost and have to backtrack. I guess that means that it is pretty engaging.

I wonder what other kinds of things Sonny Smith does the rest of the time? Is all of his music like this?

Related Links:


Return to the top of this page. | Return to the Album Review menu.