Mindy Smith sounds a bit overwhelmed. She's rambling as she talks and is worried her thoughts aren't coming across clearly. One moment she's sitting in the blue-walled living room of her Nashville, Tenn., home and the next she's standing on her front porch watching a school bus drive by. Considering the singer-songwriter's first independent album was released just two days earlier, maybe it's all just nervous excitement.
"I've been working on this for three years and doing what it takes to realize the dream of doing an independent album," Smith says. "It's a lot of work, patience and being broke in more than one way. I have a base and foundation to work with, but it's a lot of hope. Not all of my eggs are in one basket, but that basket sure feels overloaded sometimes."
Smith released three albums — One Moment More in 2004, Long Island Shores in 2006 and Stupid Love in 2009 — and one holiday album — My Holiday in 2007 — on Vanguard Records. Over the years, as one of dozens of artists on the venerable folk label, she began to feel as though her music wasn't getting the attention it needed. She finally reached the point when she knew she had to take a "leap of faith" that independence was the best way for her to proceed. Smith, who performs July 14 at The Evening Muse, is currently on tour supporting a new self-titled album, released on her own Giant Leap Records.
The 11-songs, which Smith wrote over the last 15 years, show her diversity as a singer and songwriter. From the country-folk of the album's opener, "Closer," to the ragged blues of "Tin Can," Smith's main songwriting goal is to keep herself interested.
"If I don't change things up, I personally get bored with my stuff," she says. "I wonder how people sing the repetitive songs that I hear on the radio over and over, night after night. My approach to writing is that if it's something I don't feel I can sing night after night, I pitch it right into the trash."
Smith's personal lyrics are the type of diary entries that give insight into every emotion — love, loss and happiness among them. It's a well of inspiration Smith hasn't always had an easy time drawing from.
"I've been on medications over the years for depression that have suppressed my joy and sorrow," she says. "It's about trying to find a place where I can be healthy in my brain and not have something jeopardized. In one case, I'm jeopardizing my creativity and, in the other, it's my well-being. Finding a balance is a pain in the rear end."
Smith feels it's her duty to be upfront and honest instead of shying away from any hurdles. She says she doesn't want to hide from the difficulties of being an independent artist either. She's balancing her songwriting duties with social media and keeping fans interested between albums.
To that end, she's already thinking about her next record. For now, though, she's excited about her latest one and determined to get her hard work out to the public.
"The music industry is muddied right now. It's hard to rise to the top when it's cluttered with things that aren't up to par in my opinion," Smith says. "It's important that everyone can express themselves, but I have to do something that people are going to be willing to spend their hard-earned money on."
Mindy Smith with Rosi Golan. July 14. 8 p.m. $15. The Evening Muse. www.theeveningmuse.com
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