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Margot had a voice that never went where you expected it to go: dodging, swooping, feinting; loud when you thought it would be soft; soft when everything pointed to loud. She had the look of a gypsy in mourning: pale skin often offset by blood-red lipstick, long dark wild hair, piercing eyes. Fame proved cruelly elusive and yet, even when singing to small, sometimes inattentive audiences, she performed as if she were in a packed arena: gesturing dramatically and giving all to each syllable—playing to the bleachers, daring you to pay attention. Margot Smith was a classic rock star, dramatic and engaging, but at other times fragile, gentle and brittle. There was nothing artificial to her persona. What you saw was what you got.

The legacy is small but rich: two out-of-print CDs, a handful of one-off songs, and one unreleased final album. Listening now to her debut—SLEEPING WITH THE LION –one is taken with its confidence and ambition. The lyrics impress and unsettle in equal measure: “You never should have been carrying the devil’s child,” “Oh yes you are adored by a multitude of whores / Selling their stories at the door,” “You are like, a lion in a pool of blood.” These are phrases to be unpacked gradually and puzzled over like Zen koans. The darkness is right there on the surface, but so is freedom, spontaneity, and a joy in wordplay.

Her follow-up–TASTE–is, if anything, more unsettling, more adventurous, and more powerful. Largely improvised amidst an atmosphere of chaos, it may be her definitive statement. ‘Hope’, ‘Totalled’, ‘Desperate to Pack’: these titles indicate that this, is not, a stroll through a sunny park. And yet, once again, there’s something exhilarating and liberating about her music. Margot clearly had a rapport with her collaborators from the church and her long time friends and ex band members from the Toxic Garden Gnomes. She brought out shades in their playing and co-writing that can’t be heard elsewhere, as exemplified most strikingly in ‘Righteous’–a 4 minute, 33 second mystical trance captured on tape.

Margot’s third and last album, the long awaited INHUMNAINANE was mastered just weeks before her passing. This is Margot’s final offering to you; a collection of songs that she chose personally as a gift to all, imploring you to listen from start to finish to what she had to say. It draws you in from the beginning with a soft, haunting piano piece by Ben Kross called ‘The Secret’ but then hits you with the powerful ‘Planet Queen’, a song about the environment and love that Margot recorded with David Skeet (producer) and Tim Powles (the church), a song that whispers “and I shed a tear for what I’ve seen” to screaming out “leave my planet, leave my planet… clean!”. Following on are tracks recorded with Margot’s close friends, allies and icons in the music industry; Peter Koppes and Steve Kilbey (the church), Michael Wade and David Rule (Toxic Garden Gnomes) and John Kilbey (Bhagavad Guitars). Margot displayed genius in her song writing and raw emotion in her delivery.

 


But, the pain of her loss is acute. There was much, much more to be said, and finding a silver lining in the needless passing of someone so young is difficult. But if there is one, it would be this: In her short time on this earth, Margot Smith made herself known so powerfully, so forcefully, that her voice and persona have carved a permanent place in the hearts of those who were lucky enough to hear her, connect with her and enjoy her spirited presence. We thank God for lending her to us.

RIP Margot

Photo Top Left: Adrienne Overall
Photo Mid Right: Unknown
Photo Bottom Left: Adrienne Overall

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Get “Inhumaninane”

Margot Smith's 3rd CD available now via her website.

Price $25 Australian dollars per CD - no extra shipping/handling worldwide. Proceeds from the sale of this CD go to Margot's family.

 

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