Connie Smith is perhaps the only female singer in the history of country music who can truly claim to be the heiress to Patsy Cline's throne. It's not that there aren't many amazing vocalists in the field, and plenty of legends among them. But in terms of the pure gift of interpretation of taking virtually any song and making it a country song of class and distinction, Smith is it.
Tommy Smith, the great Scottish saxophonist, composer, bandleader and educator, studied classical orchestration in the 1990s, and has played in plenty of challenging jazz/classical settings. But Modern Jacobite is his most ambitious journey yet, centred on an intricately woven three-movement symphonic work inspired by the Jacobite uprisings; it is bookended by a rapturous tenor-sax improvisation on Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, and by Chick Corea’s famous Children’s Songs interleaved with Smith’s own Bairn’s Songs as personal variations on the same theme. The Jacobite pieces embrace violent, cinematic soundscapes for slewing brass and thundering percussion; deep cello themes that segue into pulsating tenor-sax ruminations; Scottish folk dances that become pipe-toned tenor jigs.
Five Ways of Disappearing marks Smith's return to recording, and the album reflects both her psychedelic background and the more ethnic/folky material she creates now. Songs like "Aurelia Zebulon" and "Temporarily Lucy" are heavy, droning pieces bordering on gothic, while "In Your Head" is a demure pop song, and "Maggots" is an odd tune with a nonsensical chorus of "maggots/do-do-do-do-do." Her deadpan vocal delivery adds another layer of individuality to an offbeat album by an offbeat artist.