John Smith “The Fray”

Thirty Tigers, 2021

Everything about this album reaches deep.

artwotk for John Smith, The FrayWhilst touring over the last fifteen years, British born and bred John Smith has become eminently internationally connected. During this time, he has played guitar as a session musician for various artists ranging from Joan Baez to David Gray and Tom Jones, and this, his sixth studio album, benefits from diverse international input from a whole host of well-connected musicians as well as being co-produced with friend and producer, Sam Lakeman.

The now-familiar backdrop of a brutal 2020 has influenced much of today’s new music. And, along with many, Smith also writes from a position of personal sadness and uncertainty. However, the joy and optimism his songs bring to the ears and the soul are something to behold. Whilst there is a mix of individual and co-writes, Smiths unique stamp is apparent throughout. His consistently graceful, alluring, warm voice brings genuine feeling and meaning to the intelligent, relatable lyrics. He effortlessly reaches deep with his passion and perception. His tender yet purposeful delivery brings comfort as he portrays ‘The Fray‘, with his soul-searching, thought-provoking advice coming across in ‘One Day at a Time‘.

Several esteemed artists guest on this album. There are fabulous duets; ‘Star-Crossed Lovers‘ with Lisa Hannigan and ‘Eye to Eye‘ with Sarah Jarosz. Additionally, Courtney Hartman joins Jarosz on backing vocals in the soaring ‘Deserving‘, making it one of the many stand-out songs. Hannigan also features on ‘Just as You Are‘ and the title track itself, ‘The Fray‘, which also features the American indie folk-duo The Milk Carton Kids. As if all of this didn’t add enough rich layers to the album, there is also vocal enhancement from Jessica Staveley-Taylor on several songs.

Furthermore, a whole host of sensational musicians bring beauty and sensitivity to this sublime album. All of the contributors, not least Smith himself, perform with wholehearted honesty, tenderness and conviction.

9/10
9/10

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