All Smiles
"Ten Readings of a Warning"

(Dangerbird Records 2007)All Smiles - Ten Readings of a Warning

Following the 2006 demise of Grandaddy, guitarist Jim Fairchild packed his things up and abandoned California, for Portland, and later Chicago. It was during this time of transition that Fairchild began recording his first solo album, "Ten Readings of a Warning." Fairchild's new project boasts appearances from friends like Janet Weiss (Sleater Kinney), Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse, Black Heart Procession), Danny Seim (Menomena), and Solon Bixler (Great Northern). But it is Fairchild's gentle vocals that always attract the attention on "Ten Readings of a Warning."

Bright and buoyant but never unbearable, "Summer Stay" breezes by with a certain bounce, as Fairchild delivers his smooth vocals over an instrumental mix driven by unyielding drumming. Piano gently thunders in the background of "Killing Sheep" as a subdued squealing electric guitar part adds to the brisk melody. In the album's latter half, things really come together. Heavier accents, often buzzing electric guitar, add something in the background without throwing the songs off balance. "Leave Love" might start as an unassumingly light number but it steps out as something special once a deep toned guitar joins in while the solemn piano and vocal start of "Of Course It's Not Up To Me" builds.

Fairchild's debut as All Smiles is a friendly and likable album. While there is very little to even dislike about "Ten Readings of a Warning," the soft songs lack a go-getter attitude and instead remain mostly passive until the final few songs of the album. Fairchild seems happy to remain humble and keeps his voice low, never offering a challenge or an argument. Opting instead for a thoughtful and quiet approach, All Smiles' "Ten Readings of a Warning" floats effortlessly without overdoing it.

B+

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