Orriel Smith's debut album, A Voice In The Wind, was released by Columbia nearly 50 years ago. In the intervening years, Ms. Smith has released several albums of “cluckoratora”, wherein she clucks famous arias from the likes of Mozart, Verdi, and Puccini. However, her heart has always been close to the folk songs of her youth. She returns there for her new release, A Voice Forever In the Wind.
This from Jeff Penczak's review on Terrascope:
Accompanying herself on guitar and with sparse orchestral arrangements performed by Don French, Smith delivers an impassioned collection of traditional folk songs from Ireland, Britain, America, Mexico, Russia, and Aotearoa/New Zealand. The backing ranges from a softly intertwined guitar and orchestra on opener, ‘She Moved Through The Fair’ to her gently plucked acoustic guitar on ‘Lady Mary’ and ‘Songs My Mother Taught Me’, to the a capella marvel, ‘Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies’ that finds her in as fresh and fine a voice as those early recordings.
Throughout, her crystalline voice tickles the heavens, occasionally operatic, but never less than emotionally enthralling. Think back to that voice wafting from the radio towards the end of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers and you’ll get an idea of the immaculate purity and emotion in Smith’s vocal pyrotechnics. ‘Danny Boy’ is as heart wrenching as any version you’ll ever hear, and her other tales of death, forbidden love, and lost virginity snuggle warmly up alongside songs of faith and devotion, including the a capella ‘Were You There When They Crucified My Lord’ / ‘Amazing Grace’ medley that’ll bring tears to the eyes of angels. Record companies don’t release albums like this any more, which may explain why Ms. Smith has elected to release it herself. You can find it at the link above. It’s one of the summer’s earliest treats. (Jeff Penczak )