Deep Forest Drive is the latest recording project by Scott Smith, who grew up near the southern gate of the Yosemite National Park. He now resides in Sacramento and works part time at Little Russia Recordings where, with the help of Dryw Owens who recorded, mixed and mastered, released In Memoriam this September. Smith’s first full length album is deeply personal, as it details the pain and grieving process he went through after losing his mother to suicide in 2011. Smith tells his story of healing in words and song and uses the natural surroundings of Yosemite to address themes of loss, grief and ultimately finding the hope to carry on.
Musically, his Deep Forest Drive project is an indie rock style with influences from artists such as Me Without You, Grizzly Bear, Radiohead and The Dodos and Foals. Scott’s approach started out as a true DIY project – he wrote and demoed his songs while living and working at a rural camp and conference center in the Sierra National Forest. Here, he converted a small cabin into a makeshift recording studio. From there he brought his songs to Owens and recorded his debut over several weeks for nearly a year.
Beginning in “Stagnant Water” is a reverberating guitar and watery vocals in a slacker dream pop form and then, just as soon as things quiet down…. Scott Smith belts out – ”staaagnaant waaaterr!” in a most vulnerable and ragged way – quite the beautiful opener I’d say. “Smoke” is the longest song on the album and begins with quieter sounds of lighter guitar plucking, keyboards and a falsetto voice. You may hear faint elements of Bon Iver and Elbow on this one. On “Ghost” Smith takes to the piano and begins with a more stripped-down sound early on. Dreamy sounds of the keys are added with some muddy guitar and a gentle acoustic. I’d like how this one progressed and how it was musically arranged. The style here is indie dream pop, kind of in the same vein as Coldplay or Radiohead.
“Lost in the Waves” takes one-part acoustic folk and meshes it together with something akin to alternative psych – indie pop/rock. Smith discloses his lyrics only on this one song (via Bandcamp). The words address his grieving process and the feelings he was, and still is I presume, dealing with about his mother’s death. The line “My mind moved on but my heart never will / there are too many holes to fill” sums it up well. Overall, a strong and profoundly personal song. Smith lays down some beautiful rolling acoustic guitar work on “Little Things” – the melody is simply gorgeous. The keys and vocals added, not to mention lyrical content which gave me pause when thinking about my father’s death, make this song all the more sorrowful – but I’d recommend listening to it.
“Smoke II” is a continuation of track two and the sound of the drums are deep and dragging. The overall moodiness of Smith’s approach in the beginning reminds me of the gloomier sounds of The Cure’s masterpiece, Disintegration, but with a more modern alternative edge like Coldplay or Radiohead. Overall, I thought this tune was one of Smith’s most dynamic. “Dry Eyes” which happens to be the shortest on the album, picks things up with jumpy drum beat, full guitar sounds and fantastic twists and turns – at times I thought I was listening to a completely different artist.
“Know You” dives back into a psych dream pop style with whisper-like vocals, watery guitar effects and intentional breaks inside the beats. I thought everything about “Silence” – to the song’s beats, arrangements and instruments used was very creative and daring, another gem on the album not to be missed. The last number “New Growth” starts off with the words “Mother… tell me where you’ve gone?” and its style is another strong contender for the indie rock, dream pop, alternative… well, this song seems to have everything!
On the whole, Scott Smith’s In Memoriam may not be his opus, but he certainly has written and performed a commanding performance. It’s large enough that it encompasses many styles and sounds, all centered around a very sensitive theme. And although you may not have gone through the death of a love one, specifically a parent, Smith’s musical style alone is one I’d recommend checking into.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook