Published Jan 23, 2015It's a shame that Samantha Savage Smith couldn't have released Fine Lines in the mid-'80s when John Hughes was in his prime; her style would have complemented Molly Ringwald's youthful trepidation so well. The sophomore release from the Calgarian is a nostalgia-inducing, post-punk playground with flashes of melancholy tones and identity-seeking angst strewn about ten deeply personal vignettes. The followup to her critically acclaimed debut, Tough Cookie, expounds upon Smith's talent as a songwriter as she tackles similarly complicated issues of everyday relationships and the self.
The guitar-rich sound — driven by handclaps and loose snare hits — provides the perfect context for the conflicted Smith. Her bird-like vocals, fluttery and inviting, bring to the surface the vaguely familiar and youthful. Angst-invoking remarks like, "Us kids in the basement, fighting what we're facing, know it's a real fact, us living like a doormat" bring out the memories of the young misanthrope in all of us. Touching on the budding existentialism of young adulthood, Smith also figures into the mix the inherent vulnerability of human interaction and its perceived lack of consequence in the great scheme of things: "It makes no difference to you and I, it makes no difference to anyone."
Yet, the album doesn't sound apprehensive or brooding; rather, it's incredibly energetic and robust. Smith seems to be keenly aware of her experiences and communicates with the confidence of a singer with far more years under her belt. Yet this record, for all its positive attributes, still feels like a stepping stone to even grander achievements to come from Smith. (Pipe & Hat)