Mindy Smith – Albuquerque Zoo (Albuquerque, NM)
Mindy Smith’s album One Moment More sounds somewhat wispy and introspective. But in front of a crowd, with a pond rippling in front of the stage and a dark storm blowing through the cottonwood grove, Smith turned out to be more of a rocker than a crooner.
She opened her rather short set with a pounding version of “Hard To Know”, a clue that the show would lean toward the electric bits of her album. She asked if anyone was “in love out there,” then eased into the new song “Ain’t Got A Cure For Love”, a languid, shimmering jazz ballad. Smith told the audience she had found a cure for love, and “it came all bundled up in bitterness and anger.” By this time, the lightning and billowing red curtains behind her had created a dramatic backdrop.
Love’s cure was an unhurried honky-tonk blues about getting left behind, called “Old Tin Can”. A different feel marked “Train Song”, which had a raw, Lucinda Williams feel onstage; Smith shed her guitar, grabbed the mike with closed eyes and sang, “I’m just wondering/I need to ask/Is my sweet man on that train.” “That’s about as country as I get,” she said. Although she’s a Nashville transplant (originally from Long Island) who never wanted to be labeled a country singer, Smith does have a little twang in her imposing voice — a “long-gone” sound.
The rain began as Smith slowed down with “It’s Amazing” and “Raggedy Ann”. The audience started getting up and Smith taunted them about being scared of rain: “I’m the one up here with the lightning bolt in my hand.” Most of the crowd stayed put and, appropriately, Smith launched into the One Moment More track “Hurricane”.
Smith said she dedicated her album — and its title track — to her mother, who died of cancer in 1991. Tonight, she played that song on solo guitar, which showcased her clear, soulful voice.
When the band returned, Smith said it was time to “praise Jesus” — which meant guitar-fueled rocking out with her breakthrough single “Come To Jesus”. She ended the song singing a cappella to a silenced crowd.
She encored with “Jolene”, her contribution to a 2003 Dolly Parton tribute album, then ended with a less impressive cover of Gillian Welch’s “Orphan Girl”, perhaps the slowest and least tight tune of the entire night. The wind was still blowing as Smith departed, but some of the electricity in the air was left behind by the music.