Emerging from the Paisley Underground, a neo- psychedelic scene from the 1980s, Opal predate Mazzy Star by a few years. Singer songwriter and musician Kendra Smith, also a founding member of The Dream Syndicate, made some EPs, left the band and was replaced by Hope Sandoval, but Opal’s beautiful collection Early Recordings should definitely be given more exposure, a compilation of EP tracks and singles.
Smith has a deep, husky voice and together with the late Roback, she made enigmatic songs about life, dreams, elusive love affairs, and Greta Garbo (Harriet Brown). Fell From the Sun is as trippy as the title would suggest, and Northern Line tightropes between country and dream pop. It’s glorious stuff.
Opal were definitely way ahead of their time-artists like Aldous Harding, Beach House and Big Thief seem to share influences and make timeless dream pop with a lysergic haze.
Smith did make some beautiful solo music, but ultimately opted out of the industry, living off-grid in a cabin with no electricity . She reunited with The Dream Syndicate for a couple of reunion shows, but never seemed bothered by the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and it’s attendant clichés. As recently as 2018, she made soundtrack music, but doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to take on full projects.
At least her music endures. The Opal sessions are absolutely sublime.