Stuffy Shmitt – Stuff Happens
This set lights up like kindling drenched in gasoline. The instruments are bright, the music well-produced, the voice is a pit bull with a groove that is rock music as it should be in 2021. Stuffy Shmitt (vocals/acoustic guitars, National Steel guitar) has lots of musical pulp on his varied short masterpieces.
His core band is producer Chris Tench (electric & acoustic guitars /xylophone/piano/tubular bells/xylophone/glockenspiel), Parker Hawkins (electric+upright+fretless basses/vocals) & Dave Colella (drums/percussion).
On the 11-cut, 49-minute CD already available Stuff Happens (Realistic Records) recorded in Nashville, TN. The songs have personality, wit, expressiveness & are ballsy.
The silly simplistically titled “Jim’s Dad” is quite good in a John Prine manner, & equally creative. “It’s OK” is a radiant rocker. Aaron Lee Tasjan & Brian Wright each lay down electric guitar on “Scratching at the Cat,” which is reminiscent vocally of Canada’s Tom Wilson (former Junkhouse) who recorded a 1996 song called “Shine,” that’s quite similar to Stuffy’s vocals.
“She’s Come Unglued,” is catchy, & keeps the momentum with muscle. Dave Coleman offers lead guitar & Stuffy’s delightfully aggressive deep vocal. Quite cool. It seems very little is mundane in this collection. Each tune is tastefully arranged & confident. Not every song charges like a bull, however. “The Last Song,” is a solid ballad sung with sincerity & is a bittersweet beauty.
Lots of credible added musicians (harmonica/cello/violin) peppers the LP’s landscape. Never a dull moment musically. “Mommy and Daddy” is strong. Sung with essential sweetness with biting penetrating tragic lyrics. This is excellent, powerful songwriting.
Stuffy is remarkable – a wonderful vocalist with a tightly focused band. He has an originality that Tom Waits has, that Tom Wilson possesses, & he has a sense of humor that tweaks the songs at times (“The Good Land”). He strikes a balance between modern-day rock & Robert Johnson’s spare blues preserved in his innovative showcase.
Shmitt is compelling, interesting & with a propensity for bruised songs he rekindles my faith in good songwriting. He especially shines with Dick Aven’s baritone sax on the dynamic rocker “Sweet Krazy,” (vocally sounding a lot like blues great Mason Ruffner), & on “Leroy’s Calling Me Home,” — one of the best tunes on the CD.
Easy to become addicted to. Recommended. One of the best CDs of 2021.
How can he not be signed to a major label? How?
Color image courtesy of Stacie Huckaba. The CD is available @ Amazon + https://www.stuffyshmitt.com/