I decided within the first week of listening to Mindy Smith’s Long Island Shores I was going to give it a lukewarm review.
But real life kept interfering with my writing time, and I kept putting it off. By the time I was ready to set word to pixel, something strange happened — Long Island Shores took root in my subconscious.
I would wake up some mornings with the songs from the album playing in my head.
What happened between that first week of listening till now?
I should take some responsibility. I haven’t been listening to much country music. Between Utada Hikaru, Furukawa Miki, Gnarls Barkley and SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS, there hasn’t been much room for wistful singer-songwriters with guitars. (Dylan Rice and Garrin Benfield, not withstanding.)
As such, I wasn’t entirely receptive to Smith’s introspective songs.
Smith also had to contend with history. One Moment More was an immediately likable album. From the straight shot of "Come to Jesus" through the career-making cover of Dolly Parton’s "Jolene", Smith showcased both a dazzling voice and the songwriting chops to do it justice.
That’s not to say Long Island Shores isn’t likable, but the songs do have to grow on you.
The vivid chorus of "Little Devil" makes up for its unremarkable melody: "He pulls me in/Tears me down/Chews me up/Just to spit me out/He holds me close/Like he’s my best friend/And I open up/He steals everything/He’s gone again"
"Edge of Love" has the same radio-friendliness as "Hurricane". Buddy Miller’s rustic drawl feels both awkward and fitting on "What If the World Starts Turning" and "You Just Forgot" evokes the tenuous connection to the Sundays that drew me to Smith in the first place.
The album does have its dead spots. Smith’s paean to Tennessee, unsurprisingly titled "Tennessee", is sparse to the point of transparency. "You Know I Love You Baby" is too tepid for its swing.
As an album on its own, Long Island Shores is good if you have the patience to let its charms seep in gradually. Compared to the strength of her debut, it is something of sophomore slump.