Laura Smith is Back!

By Laura Smith
Borealis Records (2013)

Review by Roger Douglas Bursey

Released in 2013, Everything Is Moving is Laura Smith’s first recording in 16 years and, for her scores of loyal fans, the long anticipated wait is finally over.

Since her last album (from 1997 when Smith’s career was soaring) she suffered a series of debilitating accidents that left her in chronic pain, resulting in a dependency on prescription drugs. This nearly robbed her of her musical prowess to write and perform, and robbed her fans, for a time, from relishing in her haunting and lamenting vocals. 

In 2010, through sheer perseverance and a courageous choice of alternative pain treatments, she was able to step from the shadows of her addiction to perform and eventually record, Everything Is Moving. And, truly everything is moving in her life and her career; but what of her songs on this album?

Recorded at Borealis Records, this latest offering of originals and Celtic traditionals, includes Smith's contemporary ballad, “The Blues And I,” from which she takes her album title. The song's melancholic flugelhorn solo by Guido Basso gracefully augments Laura’s distinctive voice to tell of where she has been and where she is now.

The Celtic traditional, heartfelt rendition of “Lonely Waterloo,” begins with “A maiden fair was walking down by the riverside, the crystal tears fell from her eyes as I walked by her side.” It tells the story of a young woman who mourns the loss of her beloved.  One can almost see Smith walking alongside her former self, paying tribute to her past, while conveying her strength of courage to move on, much like the Phoenix who rose from the ashes.  But, perhaps, she had little choice, i.e., a parallel to Smith’s love for her own sense of being that emanates from the heart of her music, and the music of her heart.

Turning to some of the other songs on the album, “Jack Keane’s Boys” is my personal favourite, a delightful upbeat tempo that captured my interest and lifted my spirits.  Interestingly, the tune tells the story of hardship and poverty, however, the words are woven together in a rhythmic and hypnotic pattern that made me want to get up and dance. I think the instruments complement her vocals beautifully, but I do believe a bodhrรกn would have added that extra bit of fullness to the melody. 

“Gartan Mother’s Lullaby,” a Celtic traditional melody from Donegal, is marvellously sculpted - Laura’s voice draws in the fundamental strength of women’s voices everywhere.  In fact, the words put me back into my mother’s arms to be soothed by the gentleness of her voice and the rhythmic beat of her heart.
In “Safe Home, Sweet Light,” Smith leads you on a heartfelt emotional and spiritual journey as she bids farewell to a brother and an old friend who passed away last year, within days of each other.

Smith is currently promoting her album, so check her website for tour dates to, once again, relish in her unique sound, while you witness her journey. Watch for her at next year’s ECMAS (East Coast Music Awards). “And, Laura, Welcome back!”

Roger Douglas Bursey is a musician, writer and a Newfoundlander currently living in Prince Edward Island.

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