Fred Smith album



1529 Fred Smith HOME Wallet SLIT ON LEFT.inddPerhaps Fred Smith’s twin career as a diplomat explains his not being taken quite as seriously as a singer-songwriter as is his due. Given its potency, the Dust of Uruzgan opus (about his time in Afghanistan) was a hard act to follow, and he has responded by shrinking the horizon of his writing back to the foibles and joys of home life.

But Smith loves surprises, so he opens with Ellie May, a gripping narrative set in the American Civil War. In fact it is deeply connected with the rest of the songs, because at heart Smith’s writing, like all good drama and fiction, is predicated on an ability – that evades our politicians! – to see the world through another’s eyes.

Beautiful Girl is an exquisite miniature about his new daughter, while the haunting Out There deals with the fragility of love. Some songs contain a line or two that seem shoehorned into their melodies, but most are exceptional, capped by Smith’s guileless and often surprisingly affecting voice, with thoughtful, understated accompaniment that includes producer Shane O’Mara.