Today: Jul 16, 2024

Album Review: April Smith and the Great Picture Show’s latest delivers

Mackenzie Hurlbert — Staff Writer

WARNING: If you are one of those people who don’t appreciate uniqueness and would rather listen to that same-old, shallow-lyric music which now infests the radio, than April Smith and the Great Picture Show would probably not fit on your I-pod. However, if you actually listen to the lyrics of a song and appreciate wit, a great voice, and some quirky musical twists, then by all means, check out her latest album “Songs for a Sinking Ship.”

Track One (Movie Loves a Screen): An upbeat love song, which includes some ukulele, some brass, and April’s incredible voice, this song has to be one of my favorites on the album. It has witty lyrics, a fun and upbeat tone, and perfectly captures a girl’s desire to mean something to the one she loves. Not only a talented song-writer, April has a voice with an extreme range from a strong, low, bluesy tone to a high, light, and angelic tone and this track really demonstrates how talented she truly is.

Track Two (Terrible Things): This song verges on vaudeville style, and it’s very dramatic and entertaining. April’s talents as a story-teller really emerge in this track as she warns the listener of all of the terrible, secretive things she’s done. This song was also featured on Showtimes’ promo of “Californication.”

Track Three (Drop Dead Gorgeous): Drop Dead Gorgeous is absolutely my favorite track on the album and it makes me smile every time. This is an incredibly hilarious and witty song that captures the message that beauty doesn’t mean anything without the brains behind it. Sung accompanied by the most serious backdrop music, April’s sincere yet secretly sarcastic voice would seem fitted for a love or blues song, but once the listener takes a closer look at the lyrics, they can’t help but smile. April sings quite nonchalantly, “’Cause you’re so enchanting when your mouth is closed, but with a mouth like that who needs politics and prose?” and then later “If you’re just drop-dead gorgeous, you should just drop dead.”

Track Four (Can’t Say No): April’s voice in this song, accompanied by piano, brass, and some guitar creates a cross between jazz, blues and big band. This is one of the many love songs on the album, but I have to say there is no redundancy or repetition of themes or content among them all. While track one was basically unrequited love, this song is about how she can’t say no to the one she loves, because he has such love-sick control over her. This song has a much slower beat than other tracks on the album, but her voice and the music still creates a powerful and entertaining depiction of her experience.

Track Five (What’ll I Do): This song reminds me of Adele’s soulfulness a lot. April’s voice is so soft and emotional, but raises in the chorus to show how strong and powerful it has the potential to be. This song has a whole new sound and tone than those of the previous songs, and while it is also a love song, it depicts a woman who has lost her man to another and who is now heartbroken. Out of all of the songs on the album, I have to say that What’ll I Do is probably the most likely track to hit the radio soon because it does not include any big band or vaudeville-like aspects.

Track Six (Colors): This song sparked my interest in the artist because I had heard it on a commercial and it’s catchy beat and tune just stuck with me. This song is just so upbeat and happy, and with some ukulele and cowbell, April and her band have created a catchy track (one so catchy that I still can’t get it out of my head!). This song is basically about a woman who is waiting for her man to return to her after a long trip away, and while it could be classified as a love song, it still has such unique imagery and sounds in comparison to the others on the album. There is a kazoo solo about half-way through the song, which just adds to the quirky style that makes April’s music so awesome and unique.

Track Seven (Dixie Boy): This isn’t one of my favorite tracks on the album, but I have to say the lyrics are some of my favorites. April is basically telling all other women to step-off of her man because he’s hers. Her fierceness and her attitude are really what make this song so great. While I find the instrumental aspects lacking, her lyrics and voice make up for it. Here are a few of my favorite snippets of the song: April’s ferocity in defending her man is obvious through her lyrics such as “I know the way that you girls operate, so keep your hands to yourself and your eyes on your own plate” and “’Cause ladies, I’m a lady, but please understand when it comes to my boy I will fight like a man.”

Track Eight (The One That Got Away): No, not like Katy Perry. April’s song is about a relationship turned sour, and how it’d just be best to part ways. Her voice is haunting and beautiful at the same time, while the background music is very similar to vaudeville but also reminiscent of the theme music to those Scooby-Doo chase scenes in the old cartoons. It sounds weird, but strangely enough, it all works.

Track Nine (Beloved): A ballad, Beloved is an emotionally-packed song that shows the softer side of April’s voice. Accompanied by piano, it is romantic and sad all at the same time, and while it is yet another love song, in this version April illustrates with her lovely voice the desperation and heart break caused by a break-up.

Track Ten (Wow and Flutter): Another vaudeville-like and bluesy tune, this track is basically April’s advancements as a stereotypical man-eater. It’s sharp, confident, and sexy, but also seems a bit sarcastic with lyrics like “You play your games down to the letter, you’re just mad ‘cause I play them better” and that she’ll “play you like a record.” April twists the idea of a player to fit herself, and her witty lyrics create a tune that’s not only sexy, but also smart. Hey, isn’t that what Drop Dead Gorgeous was all about?!

Track Eleven (Stop Wondering): This song seems to be an innocent, lullaby-like track in the beginning, and then April’s sharp attitude cuts in and throws all perceptions out of the window. A cheeky tell-off, Stop Wondering is hilarious, and her sarcastic voice mixed with an ironic accompaniment of violin plucks, waltzes, and tea-time music creates a perfect depiction of how she is not a fairy tale princess. Her lyrics blatantly reject any notion of sickeningly-sweet romance: “Do you ever wonder if I dream of you? Well I’m not, so you can stop… wondering.” April continues to stand her ground as an independent woman by saying “I’ve got better things to do than sit around thinking all about you.” The best part is at the end, when she loudly announces, “Bitch, Please! I’ve got better things to do!” I can’t help but love the confidence and blatant honesty.

Final Opinions: Maybe it’s just me, but April’s sarcasm, wit, and vocals accompanied by the band’s stylistic quirkiness is a recipe for a new sound which is much needed on the radio today. Her lyrics are more than the shallow rhymes we hear on the today’s radio, that have been grasped for and awkwardly fit with topics of drinking, clubbing, and sex. She stays within the topics she knows of: love, heart-break, independence, and confidence, and because of that her story-telling lyrics within her songs are entertaining and witty. Her music is more than just ear-candy; it has depth, wit, beauty, and quirkiness. Who could possibly want more?

Overall: 4 out of 5 Owls

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