|Texas||A rollicking faux country ballad of love on the road|
|God Bless America||A snapshot of 21st Century America — “Detox boys watch botox girls...”
|Seven Ways||Wry musings on a year spent as a house husband in Washington DC|
|So Much Crime||A soul style polemic on the Iraq folly|
|Don’t Dig My Grave too Deep||The Civil War deathbed crie de couer of one of Quantrill’s Raiders|
|There||A meditative sweep from the streets of New York City and upwards — “Barak Obama, go tell your mama, he’s come to save us all from a lot of bad karma”|
|Puppeteer||Lament for a fallen musical colleague — “Some say that Nashville broke his heart”|
|Lazy Dazy||Mississippi John Hurt style country blues pastoral from a week down on Mary Frances’ farm in southern Virginia|
|Song of the Open Road||Lessons from the American road — freedom, luck, and self-discovery|
|Deep Deep River||Hick Louisiana blues from before the water overflowed|
|Takoma Park||Comic portrait of a soft left suburb on the outskirts of Washington DC, with Glockenspiel solo|
|American Guitar||A bitter sweet farewell note to America's highways and musicians|
It is about time Australia caught up with Fred Smith. This remarkable singer-songwriter – who at various times reveals influences that range from Paul Kelly via Lou Reed to Loudon Wainwright III to Leonard Cohen – keeps releasing amazingly accomplished albums. His latest is the product of three years playing the US East Coast folk circuit. It is a wonderful, quirky and irreverent look at the United States and its idiosyncrasies, from falling in and out of love with a tattooed folk singer (Texas) and ruminations about New York City (There) to the beauties of the Deep South (Lazy Dazy) and the joys of driving across America (Song of the Open Road).
Smith is an insightful songwriter with a seductive voice and an accomplished finger-picking guitar style. This album is more than a memento of Smith’s American experience. He has a love–hate relationship with America, which he has neatly coupled to a wry and profound understanding of that complex society.
Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald
23-24 August 2008
Superbly played and recorded at studios in the USA, Canada and Australia, this is a standout album by one of Australia's musical treasures.
Ian Deardon, Trad & Now
Fred Smith is one of this country's most literate, humorous, intelligent and empathic songwriters. He plies his craft, however, at the margins and for that, lamentably, his name seems destined to be well-known on the folk circuits and unknown by the mainstream. Texas follows on from Independence Park and Bagarap Empires, the songs moving from the South Pacific to his past three years in the US. Smith breezes across country, folk, soul and blues to deliver his wry observations on American life. He goes on the road with Jack Kerouac and Walt Whitman and performs one of the most beautiful laments for the Civil War, written by American Rich Deans, titled Don't Dig My Grave Too Deep.
Key track: American Guitar. Smith is a master of the metaphor, and on American Guitar he merges his own journey in the US with the country's history and aspirations.
Warwick McFadyen, the Sunday Age,
4 April 2008
Fred Smith’s three years in the United States has served him in good stead; from the tracks on “Texas” you would be hard put to believe he had not served a lifetime apprenticeship to Woodie Guthrie. Here we have an audio collage of (mainly) rural America: the yucca, sage brush, the dusty gas stations on a road to nowhere, the bar with a cow skull on the wall above a Wurlitzer juke box with a picture of a girl whirling a lariat, while two grizzle-faced old timers hawk tobacco juice and look at this Australian traveller with rheumy eyes. It is an aural journal of Fred’s travels across the States, in which departures and destinations are scattered like signposts throughout the tracks, linked by the thread of Fred’s immense story-telling ability in song.
Fred’s voice treads on these songs lightly, almost as if bewildered by the sights and sounds that open up before him, for example, almost sounding breathless on “Texas”. But he sings with an intimate affinity for the subject at hand. His guitar is tastefully played; then again, just about everything about this CD is tasteful: great instrumentation, great arrangements, great recording values. This is a wonderful CD to add to your collection.
Mike Raine indie-cds.com 2008