DARDEN SMITH weaves together folk and Americana influences with rock, pop and the musical roots of his home state of Texas to create a sound uniquely his own. With 14 critically acclaimed albums under his belt, Smith was called “a singer-songwriter blessed with an uncommon degree of intelligence, depth and compassion” by Allmusic.com. Compared to songwriters such as Nick Drake, John Hiatt, Leonard Cohen and Elvis Costello, Smith is one of contemporary music’s most winning and gifted artistic treasures whose consistent creative excellence keeps blossoming.
Love Calling, Smith’s latest album and his first with Compass Records, was recorded in Nashville where he co-wrote much of the material with some of the city’s stellar songwriters and working with top studio musicians. Capturing the sweep of its artist’s prolific career, the album’s lyrics reflect the depth and resonance of a veteran songwriter, while its melodies and production style recall the purity of Smith’s early work.
One of the finest and most singular voices in the singer-songwriter genre, FREEDY JOHNSTON sold his Kansas farm in the late ‘80s to finance his musical career. It paid off. Rolling Stone and Spin hailed his second release, Can You Fly, as a masterpiece. Robert Christgau called it “a perfect album.” Its success led to a major label deal with Elektra, for whom Johnston released This Perfect World in 1994. Not only did that album showcase Johnston’s increasing sophistication and range as a songwriter, but it also included his breakthrough hit, “Bad Reputation.”
In the ensuing years, Johnston released three additional albums on Elektra, including 1999′s critically acclaimed Blue Days, Black Nights, produced by T-Bone Burnett.
Freedy’s songs are often praised for their literary quality, but they also hit you on a gut level. As a young man, Johnston was drawn to both the raw energy of punk and the austere beauty of Paul McCartney’s vocal melodies. It’s no surprise that Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True is among the first albums that inspired him. One can hear Costello’s gift for meticulous songcraft and wry storytelling on Can You Fly.
Johnston took a break from songwriting in the ‘00s, releasing the demo collection The Way We Were and the covers album My Favorite Waste of Time. In 2009, he released his first new album in eight years, Rain On The City. Pitchfork, the Los Angeles Times and others praised the album, calling it one of the most assured efforts of Johnston’s career.