Weaver at the Loom‘s Before Now, Was Then, says press material, “is a…rock project masterminded by Daniel Smith.” Which actually kind of understates the case. The album is just that good. This follow-up to 2007’s successful I Was Searching And I Found confounds the sophomore jinx with solid material winningly performed. Fact is, though, Aaron “Orange A.C.” Cosgrove, working in the earlier 2000s, fronting R&B rock legends The New Congress, laid the musical ground on which Smith a/k/a Weaver at the Loom stands. For that matter, traces of TNC keyboardist-arranger Russ King’s hand are heard. All said, pretty slick.
The guy’s songwriting is gorgeous. Right down to airtight production, marvelous musicianship, strong vocals and sweet special aural effects. But somebody’s already covered this ground. Which characterizes the entirety of Before Now, Was Then. It sounds like a very strong album The New Congress didn’t stay together long enough to make. Putting a sound that so closely resembles that of TNC isn’t exactly a hat trick. Those guys had chops to burn. So, it happens, does Daniel Smith. All the way across the board. Smith, by the way, does everything on the album: produce, engineer, sing, play all the instruments. And does each with skill. Plus able assists courtesy of producer-engineer-drummer Izaac Burkhart, drummer Grady Kenevan. Luke Frederickson does a splendid job mixing and mastering what truly is an aural tapestry.
A couple of perfect examples are the moody ballad “Encylopedia (Galactica)” and the spacey “Simple Rules (For Life In Hiding)” that begins reasonably subdued, building to a forceful wall of passion before descending again to an exquisitely tender close.
Both songs are masterstrokes, sharp and mesmerizing. It really is too bad there’s no lyric sheet. For that you have to search around on the Internet—where you also can catch, on YouTube, a video of “We’re Wild Animals (We Always Were)” and a 20-minute interview with Smith.
Daniel Smith needs to find his own signature. Which, considering his chops, eventually should not take a world of doing. Ultimately, Before Now, Was Then is a fine recording well worth listening to. Until Aaron Cosgrove makes a comeback, this is the closest we are going to get to the magic that once was TNC.