LYRICREVIEWS: ‘SMALL TOWN STORIES’ THE NEW ALBUM
FROM SCOTTISH DUO SMITH & MCCLENNAN
Small-Town Stories, the debut album by Scottish husband-and-wife duo Emily Smith and Jamie McClennan, is a gorgeous take on American roots music. Smith and McClennan honour their influences—Darrell Scott, Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert—while putting their own unique stamp on this tradition. The acoustic guitars that accompany the duo’s gorgeous voices have, on most tracks, a distinctive Celtic flavour.
The vocal harmonies here are stunning. Smith and McClennan sing like only a couple can. They have phenomenal chemistry and perfect timing, and their voices complement one another’s perfectly.
While Richard Thompson isn’t listed as an influence, one can hear his British folk accents in the string accents. The guitars, banjo, and fiddle mix this British sound with Appalachian melodies and a straight-up honky-tonk twang. Smith & McClennan have managed to incorporate some of the best of the UK’s acoustic tradition with various strains of Americana.
This is a classic folk record. “Better Than War,” with its message of peace, falls within the category of protest music. “Wait For Me” is a classic tale of the wanderer and their love at home. As residents of southwest Scotland, Smith and McClennan live near the sea, which they sing about in “Sailin’s A Weary Life.” There are tales here of love and travel, and paeans to a better world.
For all their influences, Smith & McClennan have a distinctive rhythm, cadence, and character to their lyrics. “Father build for me a boat, on the ocean I will float” doesn’t sound quite like anyone else. Early in their career, this duo has achieved a unique voice.
With a unique voice, lovely harmonies, and fine, fine string work, Small-Town Stories is an enchanting introduction to the world of this talent singer-songwriter duo. As Americana becomes a global phenomenon, you’re sure to hear more about Smith & McClennan.