Kleenex Girl Wonder

The Mermaid Lounge

August 23, 2004

I heard Kleenex Girl Wonder(a.k.a. Graham Smith) was a follower of Guided By Voices and a lo-fi indie pop quirkster. Guitarist/vocalist Smith, touring alone, showed a different side of himself during an acoustic set at The Mermaid Lounge Monday night. On his records, the 25 year-old Chicagoan sounded upbeat and silly(one release was called "Graham Smith is the Coolest Person Alive.") Last night, Smith was weary from a long tour and sung depressing songs about relationships in a raspy voice. Smith tried to keep drinking water, but it did no good. Still, his cracking voice actually brought his pain across well. When Smith belted out one of his "you don't care" type blasts, it was real and moving.

Smith is one of those artists who can do happy and sad equally well. His stories were interesting and heartfelt, while his music was just good enough to get his points across in an enjoyable way. Hell, they were emotive folk songs. I couldn't have expected some Eddie Van Halen-type shredding. It was too bad few people were around to hear his powerfully vocal songs. At one point, an audience member apologized for the low turnout, chalking it up to the Summer heat. Smith said that it was okay, as long as the people there enjoyed it. As a whole, I think they did, even though there were a few talkers in the back.

The only problem I had with the show was that it was a little too depressing. I would have enjoyed Smith digging into his back catalog of happiness to emotionally balance out the set. Other than that, seek out Graham Smith.

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