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Danny Schmidt
Little Grey Sheep

Review By Steven Stone
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  Cover art matters. Take the image on Danny Schmidt's CD Little Grey Sheep for instance. It displays an artfully moody image of a black sheep and a white sheep "doing it." If that doesn't make you stop and think, nothing will. Schmidt's music has similarly graphic yet poetic quality that puts things together in ways that lead in unexpected directions.

The CD is made up of songs that didn't fit into any of Schmidt's previous four albums. At the time they were composed he felt the songs were too personal for public consumption. But time changed his view and Schmidt decided they also worked for less intimate listeners. The songs, such as "Go Ugly Early," resonate on multiple levels. The melody reminds me of Steve Earle's "Ben McCulloch," while Schmidt's vocal inflections have a Neil Young-like lilt. The event is a simple visit to Hooters, but the story of father-son bonding ranks with the best I've ever heard. Another, "Adious to Tejasito," celebrates Austin, Texas, while gently dissing the state's other cities. Schmidt calls it his anti "Screw You, I'm from Texas!" song, which seem obligatory for all Texas singer/songwriters.

Little Grey Sheep production embraces a do-it-yourself creative ethic. Recorded over a three-week period in the home studio of fellow songwriters Devon Sproule and Paul Curreri (who served as co-producer), the album has a minimalist and unadorned sonic quality that effectively moves the songs to the forefront. Danny Schmidt's vocals aren't mixed to be right up front like on most commercial releases; instead they sit back in the mix on the same plane as his acoustic guitar. The overall sound has a certain distance and natural reverberance that gives the listener the feeling that the band is playing from the far corner of a sparsely furnished room.

Just as little grey lambs grow into big wooly sheep, Schmidt's songs on Little Grey Sheep expand with each listening.















































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