Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Naysayer - Smoke Reality

In the furious hype machine of modern indie music, gimmicks seem to go even further than they used to. Anna Padgett, aka The Naysayer, is something of an anti-gimmick: a strong songwriting voice, with tunes that are dreamily skewed but grounded in relatable truths, creatively presented in eclectic arrangements spanning from post-rock to rollicking country-folk to 90s indie. No gimmicks, just really good songs. Can it possibly have a shot?

I hope so, because Smoke Reality, produced by Tara Jane O'Neil, deserves to be heard; it's full of smart little missives from the land of down but not out. "Lose Yourself in Nature and Find Peace" and "Topanga" are deceptively well-crafted folk songs about getting away from what ails you. The one-two punch of "Come Back" and "Love Horse" are the sort of slightly sinister, sultry tunes Barbara Manning used to turn out in her heyday. There's also also a touch of Manning in two frentic, piano-driven tunes, "Parents" and "Clean Girl", the latter is a perfect character snapshot at 76 seconds, a lazy eye surveying its own insecurities through another.

This eclecticism, musically and emotionally, is in the best tradition of indie music. Padgett mixes things up but keeps a common thread through the force of her guardedly optimistic personality, not always an easy task.

Check out the title track, "Smoke Reality", a hazy, lazy meditation resting atop a hypnotic, Jim O'Rourke-like thicket of sound. You can buy the album here.

MP3: The Naysayer - Smoke Reality

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