The music of Fort Collins's Drag the River has never been short of heartache. But with his debut solo album, Smile Sweet Face, Drag co-leader Chad Price has stripped away the band's comforting layer of drunken revelry to reveal something far more painful. Bearing nothing but acoustic-folk chords, a whiskey-scarred voice and the occasional sighs of accordion (courtesy of Lucero's Rick Steff), Price wrote Smile's ten songs during Drag's recent, temporary breakup. Accordingly, there's a downcast resignation to the album, a dovetailing of weary-handed strums and gruff disappointment that makes for bitter medicine. But medicine it is: Beneath all the emotional malady is an iron spine of survivalist hope, an expectation that rock bottom is just one more stop along the way.
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