by Sonny Smith


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The third album by singer/songwriter Sonny Smith is a purported concept album about his neighborhood in Oakland, CA. In reality, there's not much narrative thread connecting these songs, which are fairly standard-issue alt folk. Smith has an offhand, twangy vocal style that stops just short of sounding like a complete affectation, and the largely acoustic arrangements are imaginative while remaining simple and stripped down. Unfortunately, Smith simply isn't a particularly interesting or engaging songwriter, which makes Fruitvale a difficult album to get into beyond its inviting surfaces. Most frustratingly, Smith's occasionally marble-mouthed delivery can ruin potentially good songs; in particular, "Curtis on the Corner" has a catchy tune and some intriguing lyrics, but it's fairly impossible to understand at least half of what he's singing. Even worse, the misguided narrative epic "Mr. Low" drones on for eight-and-a-half largely spoken minutes and sounds like a particularly dull barroom anecdote from a half-sloshed stranger. Sonny Smith clearly has talent, but Fruitvale doesn't put it to its best use.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/17/2007
Label: Belle Sound
UPC: 0634457184329
catalogNumber: 3
Rank: 139806

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