Fab Fiddlin' and a Whole Lot More

No Storm Summer (Bell Buckle Records/Rebel)
Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike

by Bob Mitchell

This CD was No. 11 on Bluegrass Unlimited's Top 15 National Bluegrass survey in February and it's no wonder. Valerie Smith loves to sing and it shows. She has an infectious energetic quality in her voice and as a result, each song contains an intriguing spontaneity that makes a listener feel good.

The title track is especially strong and Becky Buller's fiddle is gorgeous. (Buller is one of the country's hottest fiddlers. as evidenced by a feature article in the February 2003 issue of Bluegrass Now. The article says, in part, "Her future is so bright, she's gotta wear shades." When you listen to her contributions on this project, you will agree.)

Other highlights on No Storm Summer include "Love Wagon," with it's lighthearted advice about how to avoid a broken heart; "Sit Down and Cry," a clever up-tempo waltz from the prolific pens of Dixie and Tom T. Hall; "I'm Looking For A Man," with impressive banjo work from Randall Conn; "Where The Blue Bells Grow," with exceptional harmony vocals and "Saw Mill Man," a happy love song about Bill and "Pumpkin."

The only notable weakness in this project is the final mix. Occasionally, an excessive volume level for the bass detracts from the fine vocals and instrumental support. I'm willing to forgive that and you should too. Find out more at www.valeriesmithonline.com or www.bellbucklerecords.com.