Noel Smyth’s CD Release Party at The Burren
I met Noel Smyth at the Lizard Lounge. I’d seen him play there are bunch of times and so it was only a matter of time before we struck up a conversation. Lately, he’s been playing out more (both with a full band and solo) and is now in the final stages of releasing a CD. Recently he had a sneak-peak pre-release party at The Burren. It was part of Danielle Miraglia‘s Sunday singer/songwriter series. I had the pleasure of attending along with a strong turnout of folks there to watch him and the other performers.
Noel describes himself as, “acoustic, voice and soul.” His style is rooted in classic Americana – songs about women and love feature prominently. Some have an edge to them, but it’s subtle, not explicit. The exception to this might be his recent song, Apricot, which isn’t explicit, except by metaphor. Noel is very comfortable performing solo and delivered a strong, 45 minute set at The Burren.
With fans, friends and family in attendance, Noel was able to loosen up a bit. Here he is providing an introduction to Milkshake Mistake. This is a song that really showcases Noel’s performing ability for those that pick up on what’s going on. He sings this song in a conversational way. It’s hard to describe, but basically he’s telling a story using lyrics that are like spoken words with even a bit of improvisation thrown in. But while he’s doing that, he’s finger-picking a fairly complex, uptempo melody to provide the music. Let me tell you, that is not easy to do. It’s hard enough to just sing a simple song and finger-pick, let along tell a story with that much lyrical complexity. And this is not a skill most people are born with – it takes a lot of hard work and practice to get it to the point where it seems natural.
And Noel is very natural and comfortable on stage. He performs a lot, whether it’s at the Lizard Lounge Open Mic Challenge or at the string of gigs he’s had this summer. He projects a lot of confidence on stage and is a very consistent performer. This is not a guy who trips up performing a song. But he does take some risks – occasionally he’ll sing a new song, often a cover, and invite you along for the ride. And if you run over a bump in the road, it’s all good because you’re on the journey together. He has the ability to draw the audience in that way.
Late in the set, he brought Danielle Miraglia up on stage to sing backup on a song. She also sings on the CD, so it was a nice addition to his set. It’s appropriate too – Danielle has been helping local musicians through the singer/songwriter series and is very supportive of those in the local music scene. An accomplished performer herself, she was quite content to provide some backup and let Noel have the limelight.
Noel’s CD should be released sometime in January, but you can hear songs like Milkshake Mistake and Apricot on his MySpace page. I talked to Noel briefly after the set – he was pretty busy catching up with the aforementioned fans, friends and family. He told me he was really happy with how the set went and really, “excited and looking forward to the official release party.” Danielle has graciously offered to have him back at the Burren again to perform when it is finally out. But you don’t have to wait until then – Noel will be playing at the Teele Square Cafe on October 7th and you can often find him at the Lizard Lounge on Monday, trying out new material and playing old favorites.