In today’s musical environment artists like Stuffy Shmitt don’t always fit in. While many are concentrating on getting as much life out of single downloads, the art of writing entire albums full of good music seems to be waning. Luckily for us, Shmitt believes in recording a whole album and on his latest release, Industrial Love, he offers up a killer collection of tunes. Packed full of quirky songs the album starts out strong and gets better as you listen to it. Creating a sublime marriage between his unconventional lyrics and soulful music each song stands on its own but as a whole they build off of each other and that is what makes this such a damn fine record.
From the first note of the sparse “The Soundcheck Song” it is obvious that your ears are being treated to something good. Shmitt’s lyrics are catchy as he writes songs that are snarky and look at things from different perspectives. Take “I Don’t Love You Back”, a ‘poppy’ love song full of horns and jaunty guitars; he weaves a tale of a love that just isn’t mutual. Shmitt humorously tackles the ‘dumbing’ of America with “Dumb It Down”, as Wal mart, nail salons and reality TV dominate our lifestyles, intellectual stimulation & activities have gone the way of the dodo. The title track, “Industrial Love” is an 80’s sounding song where Shmitt once again tackles love as he sings about loving a woman, or power tools. Two songs that stand out and offer up some of the best song writing is the reminiscent “Ludlow Street” and the obsession based “Red Dress”. In addition to great lyrics the music in both is incredible as they smoothly integrate mellow rhythms and some intense guitar licks.
While Shmitt’s songwriting is the focus of this record it is the band selection that gives his songs that extra something. The deep rhythms that dominate the record are produced by drummer Anton Fier (Golden Palominos, Pere Ubu, Drivin N Cryin) and bassist Mike Visceglia (Suzanne Vega, John Cale) while Shmitt and Aaron Lee Tasjan (Enemies!, Madison Square Gardeners, Kevn Kinney) deliver a complementary dual guitar attack that frames his melodic vocals. While the music on Industrial Love is original you can’t help but hear a bit of Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Elvis Costello orNick Lowe in each song.
Stuffy Shmitt has offered up a collection of tunes that are smart, well written and wrapped in soulful music. It is a record that you need to invest time in. Listen to the words and absorb the rhythms & melodies then when it is done playing spin it again and discover everything you missed the first go round.