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Field of Crows

Darden Smith

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Album Review

In the 20 years since the release of his debut album, Darden Smith has grown from just another promising modern country artist into a singer/songwriter blessed with an uncommon degree of intelligence, depth, and compassion. Released in 2006, Field of Crows is a few shades lighter than his previous album, Circo, but it remains a musically low-key set that's dominated by subtle textures and aims for a deeper atmosphere over the typical singer/songwriter's guitar-driven arrangements (Roscoe Beck's bass, Steuart Smith's keyboards, and José Galeaño's percussion carry the album's most effective song, "Mary"). It's significant that the album's most upbeat number celebrates "the Golden Age of pain," and the final number, "All That I Wanted," ends with the sound of one side of an argument between two lovers — Field of Crows is dominated by love songs in which love is rarely a simple or comfortable thing. But Smith isn't wallowing in bad vibes here, just giving listeners an accurate portrait of the playing field of the heart, and "Wide Open," "Satisfied," and "It Takes Two" deal with romance on a grownup's terms when things happen to work out after all. As a singer, Smith knows how to make the most of his lyrics with his rich but limber pipes, and he and producer Stewart Lerman have crafted a fine and expressive piece of work — Field of Crows is an album from an artist who has only improved with time and is still revealing new sides of his musical personality.

Biography

Born: 11 March 1962 in Brenham, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Named after a local rodeo rider, Darden Smith grew up in Austin, TX. In the 1980s, the rootsy singer/songwriter began building quite a following, and his independent 1986 debut was snapped up by Epic. Three of its cuts were re-recorded for 1988's Native Soil; the single "Little Maggie" placed on the country charts. Trouble No More — a collaboration with British songwriter Boo Hewerdine of the Bible — followed in 1990. Three years later, Smith distanced himself even further from his country...
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Field of Crows, Darden Smith
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