April Smith will lull you into a false sense of security with an enchanting melody and then proceed to jar your senses, leaping rhapsodically into a stratosphere of notes where only the best vocalists dare to venture.
Her vocals, as well as the brownies she serves at shows, leave nothing to be desired.
Smith, hailing from Toms River, N.J., cites rock’s “usual suspects” among her influences, including The Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin and Tom Waits. Smith is also quick to emphasize the prominent role of her parents, both musicians, in her musical upbringing.
“My parents never told us what to listen to. So we were influenced by their tastes, but we also developed our own,” Smith said.
Smith may also attribute her God-given musical abilities to her diligent childhood worship of deceased Beatle John Lennon.
“One day (my friend) Brenda told me that John Lennon was dead, so I somehow reasoned that he must be God. We used to pray to John Lennon and ask him to make Julian (Lennon’s son) fall in love with us,” Smith said.
The sound generated by Smith and her band, the Great Picture Show, can only be described as cinematic and theatrical in scope. The music doesn’t simply hold your attention, it seizes you by the collar and doesn’t let go for the entirety of Smith’s album, “loveletterbombs.”
According to Smith, the dynamic and captivating nature of the rock opus that is “loveletterbombs” was inspired by Queen’s front man, the late Freddie Mercury.
“(Mercury) knew how to inspire, awe and command the attention of anyone he wanted . I can’t say that I try to emulate him in style, but definitely in the feelings that I evoke in my audience,” Smith said.
Smith certainly does evoke those feelings. Never is this clearer than on the album’s crown jewel, “Bright White Jackets,” which tells the story of a scorned lover’s descent into madness. Focus tracks also include “The Bells,” which aptly features chiming electric guitars entwined with a delicate melody, and “Suffering So,” a stringent song of dismissal that buries the listener in a withering torrent of sarcasm.
Smith has strived to create an album that is a seamless entity. There isn’t a track that you’ll want to skip on “loveletterbombs.”
One listen through will make you feel as if you’ve lived through the most tumultuous years of a relationship. “Loveletterbombs” is, at its core, a rock album. It is neither glamorized nor over-polished. It possesses the character that other recent rock releases lack.
“We definitely favored emotion over perfection on this album,” Smith said. “It’s simple, straightforward rock and I think that the production showcases that . what you hear on my album is what you get – no pitch shifting and no auto tuning.”
“Loveletterbombs” is also an indicator of Smith’s stirring live performance. Smith’s voice is as flawless live as it is on the album. Her performances are unique, simply because she goes above and beyond to accommodate an audience. Acting as a hospitable host, Smith treats an audience as her guests.
“I want everyone in the place to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth, even the people that aren’t there to see us,” Smith said. “Plus, I make some ridiculously delicious brownies.”
Though Julian Lennon may not have found Smith yet, surely her prayers to John Lennon did not go without recognition. The spirit of Lennon and the tenacity of Mercury are certainly alive within Smith, but you should really listen for yourself.