The Darkness Comes, the follow up to 2010’s fantastic Flotsam and Krill, is nothing short of spectacular.
The Tender Fruit, the musical outlet of Christy Smith, has grown far beyond Smith’s vocals, guitar and brilliant song writing. Majestic percussion, tense electric guitar and powerful vocal harmonies build Smith’s songs from simple front porch soundtracks into dramatic and invigorating show stoppers.
“Light Between Us” exemplifies this as the bombastic toms push the soaring chorus into a guitar solo. On the first listen, it’s a “whoa!” moment for fans of Smith’s songs from four years ago.
The bolder compositions work well in service of the intense and mixed emotions Smith is writing about. The Darkness Comes is about love, particularly the failure of it and reflection on it. The album is deeply rooted in the south, from the language and sounds Smith employs to the religious imagery throughout.
These songs portray a woman with a ton of agency who recognizes her power and worth. “Can you be satisfied with a woman who ain’t hidin’ from ya?” she asks on “Pearls.”
On “A Man Like You,” she’s confident enough to share her feelings with a man and then call out his failures. She recognizes the emotions were real, but that it’s time to put them behind him and cut this man off. Even with her strength, she still has moments of resignation like the sighing “Tried My Best.”
That’s the brilliance of The Darkness Comes. Smith is able to capture the strength of loving one’s self while also showing that sometimes things just suck, no matter how strong you are.
That balance makes the album both a collection of anthems and ten songs to bury yourself in on lonely nights. The Darkness Comes is brilliant on the first listen and yet more satisfying on each subsequent play through. The Tender Fruit made one of the year’s very best albums.
The Darkness Comes is available now via The Tender Fruit's bandcamp page.