David G Smith “Witness Trees”

Independent, 2023

Highlighting the next generation for David G Smith’s latest.

As soon as the first chords of this fine album chime in the listener’s ears, this oozes class and quality. Smith is a prolific songwriter and guitarist with ten previous albums to his name and an amazing roster of acts he’s previously worked with, including Mary Gauthier, Keb Mo, Justin Townes Earle, Griffin House, Rory Block, Dave Moore and Kelly Willis.

His mind was firmly on the Next Generation in the writing of these songs – specifically about his granddaughters and the world he’s leaving for them.

“The album is a plea to recognize the past and, in many cases, the present, and own up to it,” says Smith. “We need to evolve into something better than where we’ve been and, in some cases, where we are. We can envision a better future.”

He’s teamed up with the astonishingly talented and prolific Neilson Hubbard on production duties here and his input has worked wonders.

His masterful slide guitar work is on display in spades here and this album has a more story-driven folk-rock feel to it than his previous releases.

It opens with ‘River Gonna Talk’ – a Mississippi blues number urging us all to think about climate action – it’s atmospheric and enhanced by Dan Mitchell’s masterful Hammond B-3 playing.  There are some raw delta blues on ‘Weight You Carry’ with Hubbard’s masterful production bringing Smith’s amazing resonator guitar work to become blisteringly effective and Alicia Mitchell’s backing vocals bringing a highly effective haunting sound. It’s a strong LGBTQ + message about the weight that’s lifted when we’re able to come out and live as our true self.

Witness Trees’ continues the album’s core message with a powerful and haunting song of fighting for the rights of the disenfranchised. Other highlights are the toe-tapper ‘Let’s Take Our Time And Do It Right’ with some glorious piano tinkling from Mitchell, and the closer ‘I Wanna Go Out’, a rousing song with the band blending brilliantly and an infectious  ‘Na, Na, Na’ style chorus.

This is a cracking collection of memorable songs, inspired playing and important lyric messages – essential listening.


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