Keegan Smith has a pleasant voice and a fine command of rhythm, but his attempts at Jay Sean-style autotune ballads ("Morning Comes," "Fresh Air"), and—even worse—at boy-band flavored disco-funk ("Dancing Shoes") do nothing to locate this Portland musician outside of the easy listening corral. Smith appears to have fans in Portland; he recently won an online music survey there. But the music isn't in the same edgy vein as, say, Blind Pilot or Explode Into Colors.
Special Delivery is Smith's homage to new fatherhood, and where he isn't trying too hard, these lightly funky, reggae-infused numbers are rather sweet. Smith trots out the usual clichés about the power of babies—about feeling "Brand New" and trusting everything is going to be "Just Fine"—in a style that recalls Jamiroquai or late Red Hot Chili Peppers. On "Relapse," a piano blues number, Smith manages to hit the right note of a knowing, debauched experience we expect from a cocktail bar confession tune, but he still sounds closer to Randy Newman in Disney mode than to Dr. John.
Maybe this is appropriate for a new father: Smith's mojo will work on toddlers and septuagenarians, but don't expect me to put on my "Dancing Shoes."
Keegan Smith plays the Palace Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 9 PM with Darshan Pulse. $5.