by Michael Todd
If only it were God’s will for Evan Todd to live in Nashville. Country music is in dire need of some divine intervention, and the high-velocity cloud Evan and bandmate Travis Bossard precipitate and ride through their first release, A Change of Days, could be just the ticket.
Smith’s Cloud, as they call themselves, has crafted a masterpiece alternative to the soulless singles the Music City keeps churning out. Todd’s deep voice living somewhere further South complements his songwriting chops while Bossard’s guitar-slinging and production prowess fill in any unnecessary white space. The true country music feeling is here along with some characters you’d like to meet in person, but from “Kristofer Klaus” and its synth sitar opening to “Young Man Sings” and its pervasive accordion, these two waste no opportunity to stamp out a few tropes, too, while they’re at it.
Sure, everyone has his or her music niche, and because this is mine, it seems only right to say I’ve never heard a better six tracks in a row than the six that start A Change of Days. They’re so good that I can’t say much more than to suggest you listen. And although I as a fellow Todd worry about Evan’s possible defection with “Matthew James Divine” and “Kristofer Klaus” having him claiming two more names, they serve as a nice thematic thread along with “Young Man Sings” on a first listen.
But past these six, cursory consideration of Smith’s Cloud, simply tapping your toe and humming along, won’t get you very far. Art isn’t supposed to be able to be picked up quickly, though, so the experimental seventh track “A Presence in the Water” can be forgiven. Perhaps the voices fading in and out are satirizing the country music folk we tend to stereotype, perhaps not. The last two cuts on the album are similarly hard to fall in love with, but at least they’re more like the smart, successful type you could only be afraid of loving because you don’t want to let them down.
Todd’s drumming — as has been proven skillful in earlier work with Columbia Vs. Challenger and Butler and the Gentlemen — is more understated but still dynamic. And from what I can tell from the album cover (as well as from the knowledge that Todd is a graphic designer by trade), the full package will be beautiful upon the merch table Wednesday, June 29 at Duffy’s when A Change of Days is released.
This is an album that will sit with you at night as you fall asleep. Certain melodies will fly in through your car window on the way to work when you’re listening to talk radio. And if you know Evan, you’ll probably smile knowing such a good guy has something to be incredibly proud of. Now let’s just hope God’s will is listening, too.
Michael Todd is a summer intern for Hear Nebraska. He promises he was fair and balanced with this review despite Evan Todd having the best last name known to man. And if that doesn’t convince you, Michael once framed Evan for larceny, so they aren’t exactly best buds. Reach Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.