Arts + Music » Music

The Cricket's Orchestra: Chirp by chirp

Meaghan Smith gives the backstory to tracks off her upcoming release.

“I Know” (2:50)

As a hotel-bar piano twinkles in the background in a duet with a clarinet---her father also performs a pair of whistling solos---Smith sings a song of adoration to her grandfather back in London, ON, who can’t express emotion aloud, but conveys his feelings through small but mighty gestures such as letter writing and appliance fixing. “The thing, too, about that song is the whole thing is a sample,” she says. “The only real players are the clarinet, my dad and me singing. Everything else is a mellotron sample. That’s why it sounds so old, because it is old. I told Les”---producer Les Cooper---“‘I want this to sound like a song my grandfather would like.’” May we quote from Grandpa’s review? “He heard it and said it was very nice. It was fine. ‘That’s fine.’ I love him.”

“Drifted Apart” (2:26)

A slow-burning ballad featuring Cooper’s signature slide guitar---those familiar with Jill Barber’s For All Time will recognize it instantly---“Drifted Apart” was written for Smith’s best friend back in London. “That’s a song for my best friend who moved away and we lost touch. But we were best, best, best friends for 18 years, we lived across the street from one another,” she says. “And I just really missed her and wanted her to call me. I figured if I wrote a song she’d feel guilty enough to call. And she did.”

“If You Asked Me” (3:18)

Sounding like it fell out of a 1950s Hollywood musical, this horn-heavy track that Judy Garland would’ve traded her best vodka for, is the tale of a woman who loves a man despite her better judgment, with Smith’s vocals cross-fading from plaintive to bashful to smoky as a stand-up bass holds down the bottom end. “I just wanted to do a big-band swing tune with lots of horns. I wanted to whoop it up. It was one of those ‘I gotta give myself this chance and spend all of my money on these eight horn players.’” It was also the song to unite Smith with her producer. “He was the first person to hear exactly what I heard without me telling him. He instantly was like, ‘I hear a big band’ and I was like, ‘You’re totally hired.’”

“A Little Love” (2:18)

It probably shouldn’t work, but it does---an adorable, strings-driven love song that features wax manipulation from Eric “Kid Koala” San. “Les said, ‘It’d be a really good idea to get a guest appearance.’ So he suggested some Canadian singer-songwriters, but I really wanted to get Kid Koala. Because it was really what I wanted to do all along---take the old-timey stuff and really infuse it with more modern-sounding stuff,” says Smith. “And Kid Koala’s a really rare DJ in that his musical tastes are really diverse and he really gets that era. What we sent him was just the plucking strings and my vocals. That was it, he did everything else. It was perfect.”


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