A native Kentuckian, Jan Smith traveled west and east before landing in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she has quickly made a name for herself with the help of a top-notch backing band.
Tin Heart is a thoroughly enjoyable mix of country, folk and bluegrass that showcases her strong and considerable songwriting skills. Smith is not overly ambitious; her songs detail small things about life in humorous and heartfelt ways. Amid the mostly laid-back vibe of the music, Smith’s words, like a poke in the head from a barber’s blades, force you to pay attention. On “All Around This Town”, she offers, “Some kind of gold this shit turned out to be, and me, I’d drive on into the sea to find out that all the tea in China couldn’t fill this great big hole inside of me.”
“Falling in love is not brave or original, and I do it badly each time,” she admits on “Dime On The Floor”, a hard-country tune that could have used a little steel guitar; however, the harmony vocals from Mary Lucey and Terri Allard are an excellent touch. Pedal steel does grace the title track, and Smith squeezes every bit of lonesome and hurt out of its sadness. Fans of Iris DeMent may want to seek out this promising debut.