Smile Is a Star
Toughest You Know
A welcome surprise from San Francisco’s folk underground, Secret Players Society’s debut EP Lay Low features the gossamer vocals of Jennifer Rose backed by a stellar ensemble comprising the Mumlers’ Will Sprott and Paolo Gomez, Leona Marrs of Pretty Girls Make Graves, Brooklyn singer/songwriter Laura Ortman and Elias Reitz who has played with Brightblack Morning Light. “Smile Is a Star” opens with a buoyant percussion and upright bass holding down a rambling organic cacophony where Rose’s field recordings provide a festive backdrop as she coos with a naturally demure cool. Reverberated guitars and brushed drums usher in the narcotic “People” as psychedelic fuzz-guitar intertwines with clarinets reminiscent of Ralph Carney — the uncle of Dan Carney from Black Keys whose “Keep Me” gets covered here in a beautiful stripped-down take where Rose nearly whispers over delicate arpeggios, minimal percussion and haunting strings. “Innocent Again” closes with the antiquated fidelity of an old wooden radio as the band gives the tune a timeless dipsomaniacal feel.