I am always leery when I get CDs in the mail such as Jan Smith’s “29 Dances” - original songwriter I’ve never heard of, singing her own stuff on a small label, with some hired session guns paid to catch the eye in the liner notes. But this CD is a pleasant surprise, as it turns out. Produced by a talent such as Bill Vorndick, and recorded at his Mountainside Audio Labs studios, you know that the sound of the CD is going to be good. And, Smith is backed up on here by top-notch musicians such as Robert Bowlin on fiddle, Johnny Hiland on guitar, Byron House on bass, Mark Fain also on bass, Pete Huttlinger on guitar, David Talbot on banjo, Patty Mitchell on harmony vocals, Pat McInerny on percussion, Randy Kohrs on resonator guitar, and Jeff Vogelgesang on mandolin. Yet, as is not the case in many situations like this, her talent and songs match up well with those that surround her.
There are some songs that are weaker than others on this effort, and in listening to this you get the idea that she could sing with a little more confidence at times. Bt the good songs on here really are good. The album starts off with the infectious “James River,” a solid opener, for sure. “Your Momma Don’t Care” is another good song, with lyrics such as “Your momma don’t get no ride to the station, no cut flowers on Sunday, That’s alright, your momma don’t care, Your momma loves you, all the time everywhere, Your momma, she buys her shoes for comfort, They don’t match her clothes, That’s alright, your momma don’t care, Your momma loves you, all the time everywhere.” Other fun highlights include the sultry, western swing blues of “True Love,” the rollicking “(Don’t Give A) Women Your Guitar,” and the Adrienne Young-esque “Simple Path To Freedom.”