Steven L Smith. Outside of Tupelo.

An accomplished luthier and self confessed fan of The Band (in particular Levon Helm), Merle Haggard and The Allman Brothers, Smith looks like a big bear of a man according to his picture on the sleeve. Appropriately enough he has a big sound as well. Vocally he comes from the Waylon Jennings school, gruff and loud, untutored perhaps but commanding attention. His songs are very much country rock with an acoustic bed over which the guitars (lead, pedal steel and slide) bite and caress, at times rocking away but able also to cradle a tender ballad. Listening to this folk such as Steve Young and Guy Clark came to mind while fiddle is used in a Charlie Daniels’ Style. While there is nothing new here when it comes to subject matter Smith writes convincingly about drunken truckers (Woman On A Pole) and fallen women who follow their dreams (Molly). Woman on A Pole in particular is a fine addition to the grand tradition of truck driving songs where a red neck trucker loses his heart and wallet to a pole dancer. It’s a grand opening song with the band playing at full tilt. Big Sky is an almost perfect country song with bright piano, rippling mandolin and fine swirls of pedal steel. Smith can write some fine and touching songs (Cowboy Song and Oregon in particular), and can also get down and dirty as on I Stole The Bible with devilish fiddle and bluesy slide. All in all this is an accomplished slice of country rock with a southern bent.

Listen to Big Sky


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