Blast From The Past
The Cricket’s Quartet is meant to be an “inspiring musical experience that makes you feel like youâ€šÃ„Ã´re leaving one world and entering another â€šÃ„Ã¬ a colorful, whimsical and imaginative place…,” according to Meaghan Smith’s website. She accomplishes this in more ways than one, from the album’s art nouveau cover to its sometimes-awkward use of unconventional instruments.Smith’s biggest influences come from the bygone eras of the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and the New Deal. She combines elements of old-timey jazz, swing, and pop to produce vocally simplistic but musically complex songs that transport the listener to a prohibition-era cabaret. While her strong, poised voice shines across every song, it sometimes becomes overpowered by the hodgepodge of sounds packed into each track, from whistling to record scratching.
This is especially apparent on “A Little Love,” a song with a few too many quirky noises sandwiched between an acoustic guitar introduction and a string quartet. The electronic additions, finger snapping, and accordion-like interludes add some modernity to an otherwise old fashioned EP, but also distract the listener from Smith’s playful voice and lyrics.
Smith regains attention with the big band sound of “If You Asked Me,” a sing-and-dance-along swing tune featuring an excellent horn section and xylophone solo. The song is also accompanied by an innovative video on the singer’s website.
She rounds out The Cricket’s Quartet with the gentle whistling and piano of “I Know,” which is also highlighted by the smooth sound of a clarinet, and “Drifted Apart,” a ballad with more of a bland simplicity than a taste of yesteryear. Perhaps Meaghan Smith tried to pack too much into only four songs, but this debut EP showcases her creativity and promising future as a singer-songwriter.