Whether you have heard John Smith a few times or never before, when you do put his music on you feel there is something eminently well-bedded and mature about his style and voice which gives you a sense of having been listening to him for many years.Smith's rich and mellow tones blend with his guitar playing on his new album, Great Lakes, in such a way that it can calm the most restless of souls.
This Devon troubadour, who has already garnered many accolades, has rubbed shoulders with some of the best folk artists on the scene and deserves his place alongside them.
|John Smith's new album Great Lakes|
Smith's liquid style of guitar and slide guitar playing is used wonderfully and from the first track There Is A Stone with its gloriously illustrative lyrics such as "There is a stone that sits on the tip of my tongue, when I need to say something to you." you know this is an album you want to listen to over and over again.
His guitar playing steps up a gear for the title track and his plaintive voice is so evocative and backed by a wonderfully mellow orchestral sound which adds to the rich colours of the song.
There is a more sinister undertone to his raspy chords for England Rolls Away and it's echoed in the harder throbbing sound of his picking.
Just over half the tracks are all Smith's own work, on others he has collaborated with Joe Henry who has produced albums for Lisa Hannigan (who provides vocals on the album), Hugh Laurie and Loudon Wainwright III to name but a few of his many impressive projects; Sam Genders - who is at the experimental edge of folk music and Dennis Ellsworth who is making big ripples on the Canadian music scene.
Genders is credited on one of Smith's more emotional tracks Town to Town which shows the depth of feeling Smith can produce with his voice as well as weaving in the sound of his slide guitar and occasionally dipping a musical toe in to the country side of the lake.
Without doubt one of the best tracks on his fourth album is She Is My Escape, it has the feel of Simon & Garfunkel but the ballad has such an intensity of feeling which just stops you in your tracks and makes you say "Who is this?"
|Lisa Hannigan and John Smith|
It can honestly be said there is not a bad track on this album and it's one of those that when you hear any song from it you will want to hear the rest of the album.
Great Lakes is out now and for more information visit www.johnsmithjohnsmith.com.
If you want to hear him live then he will be playing the Glee Club, Birmingham on April 5.