Karma brings Vancouver musician Scott Smith from the sidelines to the forefront. Having long supported many of the city’s finest bands (including Rich Hope and His Blue Rich Rangers), most often on guitar or pedal steel, Smith finally steps into centre stage himself. Under the moniker Just a Season, he has released his first solo album of the same name. In turn, seemingly as many musicians as he’s played for appear on his album. The local all-star cast takes some time away from No Sinner, Hunting, and Brickhouse (to name a few) to help out an old friend.
Together, the group creates folk that rocks: “Rick Danko’s in Heaven”, “Hey Eddie”, “Trouble in Her Eyes”. The humble guitar and slide solos on this latter track never steal the attention from the songwriting. The instrumentation is varied, often on the same song. Piano, organ, and faint brass on “Julieta” combine to channel the most classic 60s folk groups, although fiddle appears elsewhere on the album.
For more plaintive moods, there are the wistful “January Bound” and “Tumbling Down”. Song title aside, you may hear the warm stroll of the instrumental “Cherry Tree” when you look up at the cherry blossoms that have just started making their annual appearance. “Cherry Tree” is the sound of frost melting – montages of spring coming alive. And like spring, “Cherry Tree” is all too brief, over before you know it. The into-the-sunset ramble of “Sundowner”, another instrumental, is a perfect farewell for now.
That Smith and company have crafted an album as lush as Just a Season in only seven days is a testament to the skill of the musicians involved. Despite finally stepping up to claim “his time,” Smith remains modest: “I didn’t have time for this to be a magnum opus.” But Just a Season is a damned fine start. And while it may not be Scott Smith’s magnum opus, like spring, this album can only lead to something sweeter.