Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Levi Smith-The One With Bass and Drums

January 1, 2005

levismithBand Name: Levi Smith
Album Name: The One With Bass and Drums
Best element: Diversity in songwriting.
Genre: Adult Alternative
Website: www.levismith.net
Label name: N/a
Band e-mail: levismithmusic@yahoo.com

Levi Smith’s The One with Bass and Drums is a rather stunning upbeat acoustic pop CD. While many will immediately correlate Smith with John Mayer, the differences stop after one gets over the fact that both lead acoustic-fronted bands that play pop music. Levi Smith is much more experimental, versatile, enjoyable, and commendable than his misplaced reference point.

Yes, Levi Smith yells at the end of “Close Enough”, rocks out in “Slowly Walk Away” (which also features an undeniably funky intro), and mellows out for “I’d Like to Think So”- all in addition to his home sound of upbeat pop. And even in upbeat acoustic pop, he beats out Mayer, because Mayer for sure never had this much clarity or smoothness in his voice, and there’s marked evidence that Mayer never had a large choir of men singing in the background (as Smith does in “Bitterness is Sexy”). That’s instant credibility right there: throw in something that cool in one song, and you’re bound to be cool in other places.

Among those other places would definitely be “I’d Like to Think So” and “What are You Waiting For?” The former displays the guitar skills of Smith, which are occasionally lost in the good songwriting of the other songs. With an extremely talented bassist and a jazz-and-caffeine-fueled drummer, these songs take on a life of their own, turning the sum into more than the parts. While this is fantastic, it’s also great to see Smith displaying his guitar skills, as he does on “I’d Like to Think So”.

“What Are You Waiting For?” is the kicker on this album- the track that obviously means the most to the band, and obviously is the most fun to play, and obviously is the best. It features all the good band traits I talked about earlier (recap: vocal clarity, strong bass presence, jazzy drumming, cohesive songwriting) and adds in the final element: piano. There’s no way you can listen to this song without feeling something- and that’s the way a good song should be.

Levi Smith is not just a songwriter- he’s a tunesmith. With the help of his band, he crafts songs that are diverse, rich, and solid. If there were justice in the world, Levi Smith would be the household name instead of John Mayer- because no matter how talented a soloist Mayer is, he can’t hold a candle to the songwriting prowess of Levi Smith.

-Stephen Carradini

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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