Smith & McClennan – Small Town Stories
Emily Smith is the acclaimed Scots singer with eight solo albums of traditional music, regular Transatlantic Sessions appearances and a brace of BBC 2 Folk Award nominations behind her; Jamie McClennan her New Zealand-born husband, band member and now collaborator on Small Town Stories, their debut album as a duo.
There are fewer traditional and more Nashville influences at play here, with McClennan’s songwriting providing a foundation for some fine harmony duo singing above his laid-back but very effective guitar and fiddle accompaniment. Comparisons to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings are perhaps too obvious, but from the jangly opening bars of the lively ‘Firefly’ to the closing chord of the paean for a lost love, ‘One More Day’, there is no escaping that influence.
If anything, even on this ten-track debut, Smith & McClennan can already claim as wide a variety of styles and genres than the King and Queen of Americana. Smith’s upfront vocal is clear, pure and emotion-laden throughout, no more so than on the Willow Macky cover ‘Better Than War’, where McClennan’s fiddle drones evocatively in the mix as if to underline the powerful message of the anti-war song. A very impressive debut.