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Valerie Smith

Patchwork Heart – 1997 (Bell Buckle)

Reviewed by Chuck Hamilton

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CDs by Valerie Smith

Since moving to Nashville in 1992, Valerie Smith has taught music during the week and played it nights and weekends. Her debut album teaches a lesson of its own, that (for those who don't already know) there's a lot of good country music out there beyond the FM dial. For this mostly accoustic CD, producer Alan O'Bryant assembled a stellar group of pickers, including award winners Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Ronnie McCoury (mandolin), and Jerry Douglas (dobro).

The 12 tracks includes songs from tunesmiths Gillian Welch, Sarah Majors, and Gretchen Peters, plus a few country classics. Among the latter is a cover of the Louvin Brothers' My Baby's Gone, with Charlie Louvin singing the second verse. It's nice to have good pickers and pens, but Smith brings a lot to the table her own self, with a voice that handles a variety of emotions, all convincingly. It's too early to tell if Valerie Smith will ever become a household name, but if this album's in your household, the bet is it gets a lot of play.