Sonny Smith 100 Records: Volume 3

Sonny Smith 100 Records: Volume 3
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Some songwriters pen a dozen tracks for every one keeper. Others, like San Francisco, CA's Sonny Smith, adhere to the "a home for every song" philosophy. In between issuing records with his band, the Sunsets, at a pretty regular clip, Smith has slowly trickled out some of the 200 songs he penned for his ambitious 100 Records project. Back in 2010, Smith concocted 100 fictional bands, wrote an A- and B-side for each and then had artists create original art for the records' seven-inch sleeves. The concept is pretty amazing, but three volumes in, and not a quarter of the way through the material, it's the quality of Smith's alter-egos that has proven to be the project's lasting impression. Volume 3 brings us new selections from old faves like Hank Champion and spacey R&B group Earth Girl Helen Brown while introducing new characters like the Hank Williams-esque Hazel Shep. Not all the tracks are winners, but you'd be hard-pressed to find legitimate duds in this bunch. Chalk that up to Smith's ability to fully inhabit his creations. While it would be easy to lose oneself behind a wall of genre tropes in a project like this, Smith's easy breezy, man-out-of-time persona stays front and centre on each of these 15 tracks. Paradoxically, Smith's willingness to share so much material with his fans somehow both exposes and obscures the real Sonny Smith. (Polyvinyl)