With an intriguing back story, yarn-spinner Fred Smith personalises travels tales with a decidedly Australian inflection. ‘Been there, done that’ barely hints at the experiences culminating in this double album.
Disc One is rooted in stripped-back folk balladry. ‘Some Lovers’ are offered solace with harmonica, banjo and fiddle. Country guitar warms the down-and-out. (“We began to sing ‘Jimmy go crack corn’/It was all we could do to keep our asses warm.”) Sublime piano (Carl Pannuzzo), strings and tin whistle shape a tender 3/4 ode to immigrants on ‘Wind And Wind’. Poignancy akin to The Pogues or Tex, Don & Charlie.
Disc Two is an entirely different beast. Electric guitar, horns and lyrical shenanigans go off like the fourth of July. Smith’s US experience (including time with soldiers in Afghanistan) inspired the whole. ‘What Could Go Wrong’ considers the presidential conundrum. ‘Addicted To Addiction’ parodies The Donald’s fans. Smith swings fearlessly across the musical map – soul and funk (with Liz Frencham’s superb vocals), bawdy hill-billy (or outback) satire plus a shot of strutting bluesy rock. Smith is great…again.
Reviewed by Chris Lambie
4 1/2 Stars