"Smile" by Avidfan


"Smile" by Avidfan

Review

It was back in June that I introduced you to the debut single of Avidfan (the nom de musique of King of the Alps/Special Brew/Some Kinda Earthquake/Big Decision/Eight Miles High bass player and prolific "Hot Music Live Presents" featured instrumentalist Simon Ward). That one was called "Always Be Coventry" and if you neither heard the song nor read our review, you probably can work out its subject. You ought to try both though.

This time, I can tell you about the follow up "Smile" which came out today to mark World Singing Day. Which is something I wouldn't otherwise have been aware of I'm afraid.

This song once again is based upon a jazzy bass part (I'd say that as his band playing roles tend to give him less scope for this sort of thing, being Avidfan occasionally is really allowing Simon to access his inner Mingus. Which he is clearly enjoying.) but something a bit more relaxed and carefree, compared with its predecessor which in hindsight had something of an intensity. Not that that is intended as a negative criticism: Simon is a hugely positive advocate of his home city and, keen blood donor as he is, when he gives, no doubt the proceeds are a certain shade of blue. I think we can respect his keenness to extol what he so fervently believes in.

This time I think the depth of sincerity is still there, only this time he's expressing something different & adapting his mode accordingly. Whereas "Always Be Coventry" was site specific (it's hard to imagine heavy sales to anyone aside of Coventry ex-pats outside the city), this one addresses broader values. The theme seems to be around decent mental health & psychological well being with a manifesto encouraging happiness: not the worst idea at any time and especially in these uncertain and unsettling times.

Not someone who seems terribly keen to put himself forward as a vocalist, Simon performed "Always Be Coventry" by himself in a recitative style which clearly he felt comfortable with and was perfectly suited to the story in hand. This time round, he gets closer to orthodox singing with a mantra around smiling being possibly contagious and possibly our salvation, but also drops in a repeated sample by Vincent Price (ok using a noted horror film actor for what I've just described sounds at first counter intuitive but it's from "The Great Mouse Detective" so that's alright) and that works very nicely indeed.

In fact one of the joys of "Smile" is taking what Simon no doubt intends: an extremely focused and simple idea which he conveys effectively and then plunging down into the subtleties of the production. The sample is for example given the odd dub treatment among its reiterations. The bass propels the track as we'd expect, but then you notice a simple guitar chiming away and something (I know not what) being played backwards: again for that dubwise grooviness. By then it's lodged in your brain: again presumably the intention. Simon wants smiling to become contagious: "Smile" itself is infectious.

As before, there is a witty & humane video which complements and re-emphasises the music which you can find at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFEwuYFnjRU

This also heavily references a tagging campaign in Coventry which drew both positive and negative reactions and which was the original inspiration for "Smile'.

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