Darden Smith came of age in the late 80s out of the musical hotbed of Austin, Texas, in the company of his friends Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock. As Nashville moved more into the commercial mainstream, it was that small group of literate songwriters from Texas that singlehandedly set the stage for the re-emergence of the whole new country/alt.country scene in the States over the last decade.
Darden's album releases over that period stretch to six albums. Making an impact with his debut independent album 'Native Soil' in 1986, Darden soon signed to CBS, releasing three superb albums on their various imprints - 'Darden Smith' (Epic 1987), 'Trouble No More' (Columbia 1990), 'Little Victories' (Chaos 1993), 'Deep Fantastic Blue' (Demon 1995). Along the way, he also released his stunning collaboration with Boo Hewerdine, 'Evidence' (Chrysalis 1989), and most recently, 'Sunflower' (Dualtone 2002). In 1999, Darden embarked on yet another project - as resident composer for the Johnson/Long Dance Company, he scored many of their original works and collaborated with the Austin Symphony Orchestra as composer and producer on the multi-media presentation of 'Grand Motion'.
In 2000, Darden revisited the most memorable of his songs and recorded them afresh, capturing a beautiful open natural sound to let the songs breathe.
'Extra Extra' - a superb collection of twelve personal songs, sung from the heart, that resonate with warmth and experience.
Darden views 'Extra Extra' as:
"...looking back and looking forward - I love performing these songs. I've gone through so much personally and professionally, and not only did I survive, I completely fell in love with music and with making music all over again.
"Working with the Austin Symphony gave me a new type of confidence, which is evident on 'Extra Extra'. When you work with a symphony orchestra, you're essentially collaborating with eighty other people. So at some point, you have to let go and relinquish total control.
"On this record, I gave more free reign and tapped into the creative resources of the core band of Steuart Smith (guitars, keyboards), Knox Chandler (guitar), Sammy Merendino (drums), Roscoe Beck (bass), and producer Stewart Lerman.
"I would just describe the sound I heard in my head, and often leave the studio for them to work, so I wouldn't cloud their first impressions. At one point we had three studios in operation simultaneously, all doing things independently of each other. At the end of the day, we would messenger the tapes to each other. All these players are at the top of their game, so I just let them be themselves, and being able to free myself in this manner really emphasises the potential of what you can achieve by collaborating with others"
How does an artist choose his best songs?
"Simple. I took a survey. I'd talk to the most critical people of all, the fans that attend my shows regularly, friends of mine, and other players. It was interesting to find out all the different perspectives that they had."
And the songs?
"They're all gifts. Some were already written and they're just waiting for me to pick up a guitar and on others, I have to revisit them and the task becomes stripping away the excess and finding the good thing about it. I've been labelled as a pop artist and a country artist, and at one point I viewed it as a restriction, but now it doesn't matter anymore. The thing that struck me the most is that over the years, these songs had a thread between them that I have never previously realised. I also marvelled at how differently I heard the songs now, through the years and as my life changes and new things are happening, the songs take on new meaning"
'Smith goes from sounding country to pop to rock to folk, sometimes in the course of a single song' - Los Angeles Times
'Despite the various fashionings of his sound and appearance over the years, the honesty and intelligence of Darden's lyrics have remained constant. The words he sings evoke eclectic worlds few contemporary songwriters are willing to imagine' - Texas Monthly
Darden Smith is known as one of a handful of contemporary songwriters who write exceptionally personal and well-crafted tunes that bring a new depth to popular folk' - Dirty Linen
'(about 'Deep Fantastic Blue')....Smith's expressive vocals and acoustic guitar spearhead a set of intelligent songwriterly moments' - Mojo
'Smith has a repertoire of poignant and powerful songs that really get under your skin' - Music Paper
'The ability to piece the past with the future is what makes Smith a generous performer' - The Cleveland Scene
'Smith's melodies are so tuneful and the lyrical hooks are so sharp that they grab you after the first verse and don't let go' - The Times Herald Record
'If it takes a little extra time for singer-songwriter Darden Smith to get somewhere, he's worth the wait' - The New Times
'Smith has the ability to write good songs and perform them with style and conviction' - Herald Bulletin
'Smith doesn't need any fireworks to light up the sky, instead he relies on an easygoing vocal style, consistent songwriting and a world-wise lyrical point of view' - Rocky Mountain News