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Darden Smith

Circo – 2004 (Dualtone)

Reviewed by Brian Steinberg

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CDs by Darden Smith

This muted, intimate set from Darden Smith is sometimes haunting and sometimes hushed. Smith weighs in with 11 songs that sound as if he is holding forth from the room next door. A passel of Austin-based musicans, including Shawn Colvin and Lloyd Maines, lend their talents on background vocals and pedal steel guitar. Also on board: Kim Richey, Suzzy Roche, Jim Lauderdale, and one one song, "Shooting Star," none other than Boo Hewerdine, with whom Smith made a memorable if underlooked album many years ago.

The quite tones of this album may surprise you - and in fact, on first listen, some of the first few songs sound like he is just getting warmed up. But he shifts into higher gear by the time he arrives at "Mill Creek," catches the "Late Train to London" and then moves into the jaunty "Hands on the Wheel." This is an album worth more than a few spins.