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|Sandi Thom||Primary Artist, Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Vocals|
|Jake Field||Organ, Harmonica, Percussion, Piano, Mellotron|
|Rick Parkhouse||Electric Guitar, 12-string Guitar|
|Hannah Peel||Trombone, Violin|
|Duncan Thompson||Acoustic Guitar, Guitar, Percussion, Drums, Bass Guitar, Cajon|
|Ian Brown||Producer, Executive Producer|
|Rick Parkhouse||Producer, Audio Production|
|The Mighty Vibrations||Audio Production|
Posted February 16, 2012
Alexandria Thom (Sandi for short) was born and raised in Scotland. After finishing high school and a stint with a cover band, Thom auditioned and was accepted to The Institute of Performing Arts in Liverpool. After leaving The Institute, Thom made her way back to Scotland where she was contacted by an independent record label. Since then, Thom has moved on to a bigger company and completed her first solo album: Smile . . . It Confuses People.
The album reached number one in the United Kingdom and has now made its way to the United States. You may be familiar with her popular single "I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair)" which reached the top of UK singles charts and was available via Facebook this summer.
On a very superficial level, the CD title is great because it is so true.
The title also sums up the attitude of the album--upbeat. The folk music elements and the quick tempo in Thom's songs add to the optimistic feel. In other words, this album is perfect if you are having a good day and want to keep the good mood going, or a bad day that desperately needs a switch.
The most important thing, though, is that the songs have substance. The music is resonant, Thom's vocals are wonderful to hear, and the lyrics linger. There is more to these songs than just the catchy pop tune to sing along with on the radio.
"When Horsepower Meant What It Said" opens the album with a nostalgia for the days when life wasn't quite so tame. The song's chorus bemoans, "how hard the path is trodden" nowadays. Then, of course, there's "I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker" in which Thom sings about the trajedy of being born too late to be a rocker of the sixties or seventies. This song is fun, with claps keeping the beat throughout, but it also really speaks to the listener. Who hasn't wanted to be a punk rocker?
The real powerhouse of the album is though is "Lonely Girl." This is the only song on the CD that Thom did not write in collaboration. Basically, it has everything that a good song needs: it tells a story, which makes it great for ballad-lovers, while the music, which features a piano and violin, seems reminiscent of jazz. Meanwhile the lyrics read like a poem: "I sometimes see her down by the river / the water dances on her skin / and she can captivate you with her eyes / but she will never let you in." Like many of Thom's songs, this one is tinged with a sense of wistfulness for that which is lost, or maybe for something she never had.
The songs alter between this theme of nostalgia and musings on doubt, as with "What If I'm Right" where Thom wonders if a relationship is too good to be true. Throughout the album an undercurrent of fun and optimism is still maintained. If you don't smile after hearing "The Human Jukebox" you have no sense of humor.
"Time", the song that could be a pseudo-biography for Thom, rounds out this excellent debut which is strikingly apt for college students as they move on to the next chapter of their lives when, "it's time to work and not time to play."
Smile . . . It Confuses People is a truly multivalent album that can give you almost anything you need. Whether it's good music, meaningful lyrics or catchy tune that you're looking for...this one's got it all.