Tuesday, 7 May 2013

John Smith - Great Lakes

Great Great Lakes

This is an excellent folk album with fluid guitar playing by Devonian John Smith and a wealth of superb accompanying instrumentation, as on wonderful opener There Is A Stone. Smith has a rasping whisper of a voice in the Ray LaMontagne mould. 

As has been noted elsewhere, there is an echo of John Martyn at times – perhaps quite simply in the acoustic playing and that rasp in the vocal – but it is most notable in the chord tone and phrasing on third track England Rolls Away. Just a distant echo, but Smith does not do a disservice to the ripple. His songs are certainly more conventionally English in their folksiness, and that isn’t just from the megaphoning of the title.

The songs are occasionally adorned with fine vocal harmonising, provided perfectly by Lisa Hannigan who I haven’t always felt obliged to compliment but do so now, and even more occasionally lush string arrangements, as on fourth Freezing Winds Of Change, which shouldn’t work, but do. They appear again on She Is My Escape and work here in the way they did for Nick Drake. This is a gorgeous song. This is, in fact, a great album. 


  1. We used to drink beer with John at the Bowling Green 20 odd years ago. Great guy, some great sessions round his house afterwards where he would regale us with John Martyn and Steve Harley songs. Seriuosly nice bloke.

  2. Sounds brilliant - just think what musical life you might have led yourself [over and above currently, of course]!

    Glad to hear he was championing John Martyn.