You can never be too sure what to expect from Valerie Smith. Her contributions to the musical arts follow her whim, as all art must do I suppose.
Val has come through some difficult times of late, including health issues related to her voice. She told us that the prospect of losing the ability to sing has wrought a good deal of introspection, leading to a very different path on her latest album.
No shrinking violet, Smith has chosen to tackle a topic as wide as the oceans. The Human Condition is a collection of covers, each examining a part of our shared predicament, arranged in a variety of acoustic roots styles. You’ll find banjo and fiddles on Michael Jackson’s Man In The Middle, a pedal steel-driven version of Here Comes The Sun, and as you can see in her latest video, an acoustic rock take on That’s All by Phil Collins.
Of particular interest is the packaging for this project. Understanding that a shrinking percentage of music consumers still purchase manufactured product, Val wanted to offer them something special, and in keeping with her overall vision for the concept of this release. Award-winning artist Greg Carr was brought in design the sleeve and booklet, which is chock full of his special brand of whimsy.
She enlisted her daughter Josie, a charming young lady, to help explain what comes with the CD.
The record was produced by Mike Scott, who also played banjo, with assistance from fellow grassers Aubrey Haynie on fiddle and Tim May on guitar. A list of all supporting players and singers can be found online.
Smith has several more videos at the album web site, and audio samples for all the tracks. Downloads are available from popular digital resellers, and the CD package can be ordered from Val’s store.