John Smith’s musical destiny was cast in his early life, informed in no small part by the records his father chose to play during family gatherings at their West Country fishing village home. Amongst other albums, it was the inclusion of Ry Cooder’s late 70s masterpiece Bop Till You Drop which had a mesmeric effect on his young son’s imagination. It was not long after this that his father entrusted the young Smith with his own guitar, equipping also him with the skills to navigate his way through Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’.
Quite aside from the fact that it is an album of astonishing beauty, the arrival of his new album Great Lakes is something of a miraculous happening in itself, given that it followed a 2 year period of writer’s block so crippling that Smith had considered abandoning songwriting altogether. But when the cloud lifted, the results were plentiful- at the back end of 2011 Smith began working with 2 songwriters, Dennis Ellsworth and the legendary American producer Joe Henry (Lisa Hannigan, Loudon Wainwright, Solomon Burke), and by spring 2012, had over 15 fully formed new songs. The beguiling ‘Salty and Sweet’ literally came to Smith in a dream, replete with Lisa Hannigan, in whose live band Smith regularly performs, singing the refrain’s harmony- and in a prophetic touch, it is indeed Hannigan who shares the vocal credits for this track on Great Lakes.
Don’t miss this chance to catch this 30 year-old songster from Devon and his engaging performances. He is a dazzling and inventive guitarist with a jaw-dropping, unconventional percussive guitar style, and possessor of an unforgettable honeyed gravel growl of a voice that belies his age and background.
“Absolutely gorgeous, he is a sublime player. If you ever get the chance to go see him, do it!” – Janice Long on BBC Radio 2
“He possesses a common name but a rare talent” – The Independent
“His performance was an object lesson in how taste and imagination always outweigh mere musical virtuosity…unexpected and daring” – The Sunday Times
“John Smith continually swoons audiences with his own strain of nu-folk. It is only a matter of time before he is enormous” – NME