So was it all a big stunt? At first people were talking about how great it was that someone would use their initiative to broadcast their gigs from a basement to a worldwide audience when they were too broke to go on the road (and, as luck would have it, garner a record deal on the strength of that). But it's never long before the knives come out, as Sandi Thom now knows... Then came the allegations that the whole thing was one big staged publicity ploy. Outrage followed in media circles.

Should it matter how this record got made? Probably not. It's a good album regardless. Clap on the back for Ms Thom if she used her brainpower to instigate industry interest in a novel way.

From the now hugely overplayed, if quirky at first, 'I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker...' to the peppy 'Little Remedy' (much reminiscent of the sound of KT Tunstall) Thom is on form for the duration of this album, comfortable with her music and playing to her own strengths, more so than to the market. Nothing here is overproduced. Nothing is overly dressed up with musical trickery. It's all very stripped down, some guitar strumming and percussion for the most part - that simple.

'Smile...' contains plenty of decent singles at the ready, notably 'Lonely Girl' and 'Superman'. Some of the tracks have a very country vibe ('Sunset Borderline' and 'Castles'), others a more mellow intonation ('Superman' and 'Time') but the content blends seamlessly.

What's more, this debut is massively infectious, in a summery, breezy kind of way. You'll want to tap your foot, clap your hands and hum really loudly as you listen.

She's been scolded for lamenting times past (mostly times she herself didn't live through) in her folksy tunes. What odds? Not everybody who sings about heartbreak has had their world torn apart. Not everyone who writes lyrics can sing them. Point being that it doesn't make the songs any less enjoyable or even less sincere. And, truth be known, there aren't many of us who haven't wished that we could be transported to another time or place at some point in our lives.

Just keep smiling Sandi, they're already confused.

Linda McGee