Album Review: Meaghan Smith – The Cricket’s Orchestra

by Marie Carney on February 18, 2010

Spinning Platters gets asked to review a lot of albums.  And the ones I’ve been hearing lately?  Awful. (Yes, I’m looking at you Nick Jonas.  Why couldn’t your solo album sound like this!?!).  So when I got an email last week from our managing editor Dakin asking me to review Meaghan Smith’s first album The Cricket’s Orchestra I was unsure to say the least.  But Dakin told me “She’s a Canadian singer/songwriter who is influenced by music from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.  If you don’t like it, no one will and it would deserve a bad review.”  And I’m sure he’s right.

Luckily for Meaghan Smith, I am now in love.  Somehow she takes vintage sounds and styles and makes them feel fresh, even though you aren’t necessarily hearing anything you haven’t heard before.  I’m not really sure how it was accomplished but I’m happy it was.  I have been left with an album of great new songs with an old-timey flair.

What really makes the album though is the organic sound that comes out of the vintage style.  Meaghan’s voice is light, smooth and pitch perfect without the noticeable aid of any effects.  Somehow the lack of vocal effects gives the illusion of something new and different when in actuality it is a look back.  The accompanying band is primarily acoustic as well, the only electric instruments being guitar and the occasional Omnichord and Mellotron.  The lush sound is done the old fashioned way, with a string quartet, eight horn players, piano, upright bass, flute, clarinet and drums.  It’s not even a modern version of a big band.  Just a straight up, old-school, big band.  And it’s been just long enough since that’s been popular to make it interesting again.

At first the flow of The Cricket’s Orchestra is amazing.  You have your upbeat opener in “Heartbroken” into the mellower but beautiful “I Know” followed by the big single “If You Asked Me”.  And just when you think it can’t get any better, “A Little Love” kicks in.  It’s an oddly mid-tempo piece, but it’s so catchy and well produced, especially with the mellotron solo (I assume that’s what it is…).  The song is stunning and interesting from beginning to end.  Then the next couple songs are a letdown by comparison.  On first listen, “Poor” and “Drifted Apart” are slow, plodding numbers without obvious merit.  The album picks up again with “Take me Dancing”, but by then the momentum is gone, never to recover.  Somehow the first four songs promise a better album than what you get.  Of course, on further listens even the slower, less catchy songs seep into you, but a lot of listeners might get lost at track five.  But maybe if you’re streaming the album on lala, four songs is long enough to get you to buy the album?  Come to think of it, maybe it’s actually the most brilliant marketing strategy ever!

Despite any imperfections, Meaghan Smith is the real deal. The Cricket’s Orchestra may not open any new doors or push any boundaries, but it sure is fun to listen to anyway.

Song to Download:  “A Little Love”

Song to Skip when Shuffling:  “5 More Minutes”

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Vi February 18, 2010 at 9:19 pm

I could watch that video all day…

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Goddess January 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I respectfully disagree! Don’t skip 5 More Minutes! The entire album is great!

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