John Smith - Great Lakes

by Greg Spencer Rating:8 Release Date:2013-03-25

There's something awfully engrossing about John Smith and his majestic voice. The Devon folk singer-songwriter has played with everyone from John Martyn to Jools Holland and is steadily gaining a larger fanbase in the UK and abroad. This is an album full of slow and heartfelt songs which embrace and captivate.

Yeah, for the most part it's everything you expect and there aren't a whole host of surprises, but Smith's voice clutches to you with its warm spirit and complete tenderness. 'England Rolls Away' is honest, beautiful and breezes along at its own pace. It almost sums up the record, which just glides along like a boat at sea.

You can't underestimate how much of a great guitar player Smith is. On tracks like 'Freezing Winds of Change', he demonstrates his ability with gorgeous results. Great Lakes is ambient and effortlessly captivating, but the problems arise when you search for something else. By the time you get to track eight, you just feel there's some need for a little variation.

'Perfect Storm', however, is a fantastic song. When Smith sings the lyric, "What is love if not the perfect storm?" you feel your heart melting. It's the combination of the crafted atmosphere of the track and Smith's voice which resonates deeply and, on that track in particular, really moves you. This is a pretty stripped-down album. There isn't much use of pro tools, by the sounds of things, which gives the album an authentic and genuine feel.

It'd be great for John Smith to have some mainstream success, as this sort of music is so much more endearing than the usual Ed Sheeran drivel. Smith really deserves a wider audience than he currently has, not only because of the beauty of these songs, but because of the honesty which underlines the entire record.

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