Don’t be fooled by her soft-spoken voice or her sometimes bashful behavior. Behind Mindy Smith‘s dark eyes and gentle demeanor lies a singer-songwriter with a piercing message.
“I had some stuff in my personal life that I needed to sort out,” she told CMT.com during an interview regarding the last two years she spent working on her most recent album, Stupid Love. “A lot of that is on this record — like life, like all my other records.”
Though she doesn’t dwell on specifics, she’s able to convey her personal message to listeners through song, something she admits isn’t always easy.
“But I have to,” she confessed. “It’s just part of being a songwriter for me. I’m not a songwriter that necessarily tells other people’s stories … even though I can.”
Life’s heartaches and mistakes seem to be the recurring premise and inspiration for the songwriter’s candid lyrics. Beginning with her debut album, One Moment More, in 2004, Smith captured listeners with her autobiographical title track of a young woman crying out for her mother. Smith wrote the song after losing her own mother to cancer.
In her follow-up album, 2006’s Long Island Shores, Smith again was able put her heartache into song, this time with a tinge of nostalgia. “It’s been such a long time since Long Island Shores,” she said thinking back, “and so many things have happened.”
Stupid Love delves into her passionate feelings of finding but also losing in love. She takes fans through a maze of love’s “Highs and Lows,” through setbacks in “I’m Disappointed,” to grieving in “Love Lost” to eventually moving on in “Take a Holiday.”
“Everything can be taken to heart by each person that listens to it,” she said of her most recent material. “If you’re listening to it and you’re going through a certain thing, it may be entirely different than what I wrote the song about — but it doesn’t say that that’s not what the song’s about. You can relate to it in your own way. There’s no dictation about what the song means.”
Much like her forthright lyrics, she’s also unafraid to admit her faults and insecurities.
“I get really nervous when I have to play the guitar,” she said. At times, these anxieties affect her onstage, too, unfortunately like early last year when she took part in the Cayamo Cruise performing alongside Lyle Lovett, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin and many other singer-songwriters.
“A lot of elements and a lot of people were not pleased with my performance at all,” she admitted. “And they ripped me to pieces. … You just have to take the good with the bad and learn from it.”
Stupid Love features “If I Didn’t Know Any Better,” a song Smith co-wrote several years ago but had never recorded. Alison Krauss first recorded the song for her 2004 album, Lonely Runs Both Ways, and Smith remained hesitant about recording the song until now.
“I think this really stepped it up and put my intentions and perspective on it,” she said. “It was time. It was time for me to share that with people.”
She also shared the studio with several big names for the album, including childhood hero Amy Grant on “I Couldn’t Stand the Rain.” Vince Gill, Grant’s husband, added his pristine vocals to “Telescope.”
“My dad’s a minister, so I grew up listening to a lot of Christian music,” Smith explained. She [Grant] was the first artist that I had ever seen just playing the guitar and writing songs. I think for me, it was the beginning of being able to identify with music, instead of what my parents were listening to.”
As far as working with Gill, she said, “Anybody would love to sit there and listen to him sing, let alone listen to him sing on your record.”
Though most of her songs deal with the raw emotions of love, the album leaves her listeners on a positive note with the upbeat and breezy “Take a Holiday.” In it, she sings, “It’s time for a change before any more just slips away/I think that I should pack my bags/And take a holiday.”
“I just think it’s a fun song,” she explained. “Don’t sometimes you just want to go, ‘Screw it. I’ve got to get out of here?’ I do.”
Busy working on her upcoming tour schedule, Smith’s looking forward to the days ahead on the road. She’s anxious and eager to take the stage once again.
“I just want people to know that it was such a joy to make this record,” she said. “I’m hoping they find some kind of joy in listening to it.”