One of the early leaders of the Americana movement, Darden Smith, returned to Nashville to record Love Calling (LISTEN To The Listening Party Here), his first Nashville-based album since his 1989 album on CBS Records. Released through Compass Records, Love Calling features 11 stunning songs, all written by Darden Smith himself. Radney Foster, Gary Nicholson, Jay Clementi, Jack Ingram and the late, great Harley Allen co-wrote 6 of the 11 tracks with Darden. The production chores are handled by Jon Randall Stewart and Gary Paczosa and they help give the stunning record a rootsy, country feel to the music.
Those expecting a traditional country record aren't going to find that kind of record here but if you're a fan of stunning songwriting and albums from the likes of Rodney Crowell, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Deana Carter or co-writers Foster and Ingram than you have a great idea of what's inshore on this record. "Seven Wonders" and "Better Now" are just two of the tracks here that could find their way to mainstream artists and "Angel Flight" was previously a single for Foster and he provides vocal support on the track. Jessi Alexander provides some stunning harmonies to "Mine Till The Morning" while other tracks feature Jon Randall Stewart and Shawn Colvin. Colvin joins Smith for the stunning title track while "Reason To Live" is a stunning acoustic track. Each song has striking and honest lyrics, particularly "Medicine Wheel" (with it's story about a homeless Native American who may not be so much a drunk or a drug addict but lost in his own world of dreams and thoughts, in other words, mental illness).
Everything about Love Calling is stunning. The vocal, the production, the songwriting. There's nothing to not suggest this album being one of 2013's best album releases (of any genre). Darden Smith may not record albums all that often -- particularly in Nashville -- but when he does, they're always strong but Love Calling is definitely among the best of his stellar career. (Note: The CD features acoustic bonus tracks of the Bacharach/David "I Say A Little Prayer" classic and "Love Calling").