CD Fruitvale (CD 1118232),
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  • 1. Day in the Life of a Heel
    2. Good Folks Bad Folks
    3. Mario
    4. Bad Cop
    5. Curtis on the Corner
    6. Mr. Low
    7. Private Dick
    8. Someday Land
    9. Another Waitress
    10. I'm So Happy
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 003

  • Credits
    EngineerMatt Zivich; Graeme Gibson

    Personnel: Ralph Carney (trumpet); David Hilliard, Graeme Gibson (drums); Edith Frost, Laurie Hall, Jennifer Hall, Kelly Hogan, Liam Davis (background vocals).
    Audio Mixer: Graeme Gibson.
    Arranger: Leroy Bach.
    The third album by singer/songwriter Sonny Smith is a purported concept album about his neighborhood in Oakland, CA. In reality, there's not much narrative thread connecting these songs, which are fairly standard-issue alt folk. Smith has an offhand, twangy vocal style that stops just short of sounding like a complete affectation, and the largely acoustic arrangements are imaginative while remaining simple and stripped down. Unfortunately, Smith simply isn't a particularly interesting or engaging songwriter, which makes Fruitvale a difficult album to get into beyond its inviting surfaces. Most frustratingly, Smith's occasionally marble-mouthed delivery can ruin potentially good songs; in particular, "Curtis on the Corner" has a catchy tune and some intriguing lyrics, but it's fairly impossible to understand at least half of what he's singing. Even worse, the misguided narrative epic "Mr. Low" drones on for eight-and-a-half largely spoken minutes and sounds like a particularly dull barroom anecdote from a half-sloshed stranger. Sonny Smith clearly has talent, but Fruitvale doesn't put it to its best use. ~ Stewart Mason

  • Critic Reviews
    No Depression (p.104) - "In a wobbly voice reminiscent of Daniel Johnston, Smith delivers his plainspoken tales over relatively spare, creative arrangements built around his piano and guitar."
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