Sometimes A Rose Will Grow In Concrete” (SRWGC) is fifth studio album by critically-acclaimed progressive soul artist Sy Smith. Often called the “Queen Of Underground Soul”, her previous works include “The Syberspace Social” (named in the top 10 albums of 2005 by The Boston Globe), “Psykosoul Plus” (2007) “Conflict” (2008, with charting radio singles “Fly Away With Me” and “The Art Of You”), and “Fast And Curious” (called “one of the best releases by a female” of 2012 by Soultracks.com). SRWGC is the first album completely written and produced by this multi-talented singer/songwriter/musician and features her slick synth bass playing and lithe fingering on piano/keys along with her incomparable soprano voice and signature harmonies/vocal arrangements. Sy Smith is finally having her singer/songwriter moment (think a 21st century Roberta Flack) - this album flourishes with compelling musical/vocal arrangements, thoughtful lyrics and Sy’s voice sounding better than ever.
As a producer, Sy displays an expected but not-before seen maturity on SRWGC. When she does play keys and synth bass, she does both effortlessly; but she brings in some of the top sidemen when the songs call for a different touch. Sy enjoys international acclaim having toured/recorded with some of the best-known recording artists including Whitney Houston and Meshell Ndegeocello. She’s currently a featured special guest on tour with Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti and is featured on his Grammy-nominated DVD “Live In Boston”. SRWGC features many of these previous/current bandmates including legendary percussionist Sheila E. (with whom Sy has toured/recorded) and violinist Lucia Micarelli (bka Annie on HBO’s Treme).
Vocally, Sy’s soprano soars effortlessly; she shows off a sure-footed whistle tone (a la Minnie Riperton), confident jazz chops (Sy has been featured with numerous orchestras in tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, including at Carnegie Hall & Kennedy Center), a full-out commanding belt in her upper register - but usually her whimsical, conversational tone is utilized to tell the stories on this project. Still carrying a strong pen, Sy reveals victories won and battles still being fought as she allows her listeners into the most intimate spaces she’s ever exposed. The title track is a powerful, if haunting, ode to people (especially Black women in this case) who come through the harshest of trials and still bloom as beautifully as roses. Sy is that defiant rose throughout this entire project.