Smith & McClennan – Small Town Stories: Album Review
Every now and then an album is released that surpasses all others within its genre. Small Town Stories is one of those albums. I hope this receives the airplay and recognition it deserves and allows these artists the credit they deserve beyond their notoriety within the folk / country genres.
Every track is superbly crafted, with lead vocals being shared whilst their splendid harmonies throughout the album are a treat. As so much of current country releases are bland and repetitive and sometimes indistinguishable from each other this one stands head and shoulders above anything coming from Nashville. This album is a perfect addition to the rich variety of sounds we are producing in this country from new artists alongside the more established artists who refuse to be a slave to familiarity.
Love, despair, misery and hope are familiar themes but here they are blended together in Jamie’s self-penned songs and arrangements of traditional tunes in a refreshing way. The album sounds more like a swan song than a debut so if their best is yet to come we have plenty to look forward to.
We are warmed up nicely with the opening song Firefly built around a great foot-stomper of a riff. The song bounces along even though it tells the story being an outcast. Emily takes most of the lead vocals in this song and on most of the album, with the closeness of the pair’s relationship emerging from their superb harmonies.
The exceptional melodies just keep on coming. Leaving, Long Way Down, Bricks And Mortar, Hummingbird and Wait for Me are all performed with touching affection from two people whose own life experiences have given them a close insight into the plight and joy of themselves and others. They lead us eventually to the heart-wrenching One More Day expressing the tender and personal flavour running through their music.
Jamie, the songwriter, matches Emily’s compelling singing, taking the lead on three of the songs and with their own arrangements of Better Than War and the sorrowful Sailin’s A Weary Life, we are treated to a collection of delightful gems.
A whole gamut of emotions are served up on this rich, sentimental platter of musical treasures and interpreted with a subtle grace. You will not tire from repeated listenings; the more you listen the more you hear.
No strangers to radio appearances on folk or country programmes, lookout for their tour in 2020. It will be on my list of must do’s.