Straight off the bat, Ben Wright Smith has hit the mark with album opener ‘Nightmare in the City’ off his new album The Great Divorce. The drums are tightly locked into a groove with the bass and at times, Smith’s vocals sound a little reminiscent of Van McCann from Catfish and the Bottlemen. Having begun recording this album in Melbourne, the journey of songwriting took Smith to Nashville and you are able to hear a sense of place within this record. Known most notably for country music, you are able to hear a little bit of the jangly guitar of Jack White in subtle occasions.
As a debut album, this is catchy guitar pop with melodies and lyrical hooks that will be stuck in your head for days. The album really comes into its own throughout the 11 tracks, and getting Oscar Dawson from Holy Holy to produce allows The Great Divorce to glimmer with beauty. If there was an album that will pull you through an Australian winter this is it. ‘Sand Grabber’ is one of the singles that I’m sure if you listen to Triple J, you would have heard before, and ‘Dead Man’ and the jangle of the phaser-esque guitar line will get you slowly grooving around the dance floor.
If this is a debut record, it will be interesting to see where Ben Wright Smith goes from here. This is an album that packs an pop rock punch to your heart and one that will keep a smile on your face for a while. Captivating in the delivery of the tracks, put this record on from start to finish and you’ll know what I mean.
Reviewed by Tex Miller