Sonny Smith has the tireless work ethic so prevalent in San Francisco’s modern-day garage rock scene. But if you go to bat a lot, odds are you’ll strike out once in a while. That’s the case with Sees All Knows All, less a collection of Smith’s jangly, lo-fi folk than a rambling, stream-of-consciousness monologue about a bohemian man wandering the streets of San Francisco, searching for his soul.
The problem isn’t the new approach, but the aimlessness of the monologue, which, not unlike the new season of Serial, leaves a hollow feeling. Smith arrives at no discernible conclusion after these six rambling tracks spoken above languid, jazzy folk music, where, in what could very well be an homage to San Francisco’s beat poets of the 50s, he sounds rushed. There are elements of Dylan in the record, for sure, particularly on the best track, Ayahuaska, about a hallucinogenic trip when he rises above the earth and get a glimpse inside the souls of San Franciscans. But even here, his take on humanity is dated – nothing we haven’t heard before.
Top track: Ayahuaska