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John Smith - 'Headlong' Album Review


1. Living In Disgrace

2. Headlong

3. Far Too Good

4. Coming Home

5. Joanna

6. Possession

7. Undone

8. Threshold

9. Into The World

10. Desire

11. Save My Life

Here's a release from earlier this year that, quite simply, is totally wonderful . . . and without doubt my favourite album of the year so far . . . the latest release from the Devon-born John Smith . . . who simply possesses the most glorious voice, combined with his brilliant acoustic and electric guitar playing . . . “Headlong” is an 11-track treat from start to finish.

Smith has been in demand for the last four years – firstly touring his last album, “Great Lakes” for some two years, and also playing guitar for Lianne La Havas and Lisa Hannigan. Produced by Sam Lakeman, “Headlong” features Cara Dillon on backing vocals, and the release is dedicated to the late, great John Renbourn – a friend and huge inspiration, who dubbed Smith “The future of folk music”.

Lots of the songs here were inspired by the love for his wife and new-born child – from the love song “Save My Life” to the also beautiful “Joanna” - aka Mrs Smith. Cara Dillon adds lovely backing vocals to the sparkling opener “Living In Disgrace”. Smith in his earlier days was compared a lot to the late John Martyn and his voice and guitar at times are reminiscent of the great man.

Most of the tracks feature a small band, but another gem is the totally solo “Coming Home”- co-written with Lisa Hannigan and Gabrielle Aplin - with just his voice and gently finger picked acoustic guitar; “Undone” reminded me a lot of the American roots and Blues player Kelly Jo Phelps . . . with more striking acoustic guitar. “Desire” is a sparse heartfelt number, with some superb, delicate electric slide guitar.

John Smith is currently out on a large UK tour, and I would heartily recommend catching him if possible – a true talent of the top order and this is a simply irresistable release.

Review - Grahame Rhodes

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