Sea of Stars by Laura Smith




3.5 stars

North Vancouver/Victoria, British Columbia singer-songwriter Laura Smith has written or co-written (with Andrew Braun who also contributed brass, woodwind, guitars, organ, synths, percussion and vocal arrangements) all of the songs on her captivating and eclectic indie pop debut, Sea of Stars. This unique genre-crossing album offers combinations of alternative pop, folk, rock and jazz songs brought to life by Laura’s mature lyrics and lilting, little girl soprano vocals. Greg Bevis’ powerful drumming and Derek DiFilippo’s funky bass beautifully compliment Braun and Smith who plays everything from piano to accordion to Glockenspiel. I should probably mention that her former school chum, Jeff Riedlinger, plays bass in her touring band.

Sea of Stars opens with an upbeat, sweet-sounding, pop poem with a strong bass line and dominant drums called “I Spy a Monster.” Fans of artists like Lisa Loeb, Ann Vriend, Jill Barber and Sarah Slean will certainly appreciate her too. Smith’s music is immensely enjoyable and infused with infectious melodies and frequently, the spirit of another era.

Among my favourite tracks on this CD are “It’s All About You”, a jaunty piano ballad with interesting lyrics; “Break”, a Parisian, cabaret-style, lament highlighted by Smith’s theatrical accordion; and, “Queen of Hearts”, a song that took me to a dive jazz lounge in the 1920s where Smith sits demurely at the piano singing her heart out to a group of down & out, wannabe literary types. Her music easily invokes old-world charm, such as on the piano folk ballad, “Swashbuckler’s Song” regarding the romantic adventure that is the life of a pirate. But it can just as quickly morph into contemporary pop with a bopping backbeat that you’ll find yourself wanting to dance to – like the splendid “Can’t Stop” – a perfect pick for today’s rom com soundtracks; or the upbeat, lavishly produced, pure pop ditty, “Such A Long Way To Go”, unexpectedly but delightfully punctuated with trumpet, trombone and saxophone.

Laura Smith will be touring Western Canada and Ontario for NXNE this June with her band and with regular play on CBC Radio, she will undoubtedly be capturing the hearts of alternative and pop music lovers across the country. Sea of Stars is a charming collection of indie songs that Laura Smith can always be proud of. You can listen to them on MySpace and purchase them from CDBaby. Go on now, what are you waiting for!

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