Artist – Porchlight Smoker
Album – Porchlight Smoker 2
Buy the album here – www.porchlightsmoker.com
Porchlight Smoker’s 2nd album, imaginatively titled (with tongue firmly in cheek I suspect!) ‘Porchlight Smoker 2’, is one of those records that kinda creeps up on you, and before you know it you’re hooked by the plethora of, errr, hooks, hidden away in this fine collection of Americana-based tunes.
A four piece based in Brighton, consisting of Scott Smith (vocals, lap steel, harmonica and guitar), Fred Gregory (vocals, guitar and mandolin), Steve Bell (vocals, banjo, mandolin, guitar and harmonica) and Scott Warman (vocals and double bass) – they’ve managed to put together an assortment of songs that highlight the bands multi-instrumental dexterity as well as latent song-writing talent.
In the song-writing department, they are blessed with the prodigious skills of Fred Gregory (also of Square Roots faves Hatful Of Rain!), who has penned 4 of the stand-out tracks on the album, starting with set opener “Old Bray Road”. A lovely, lazy, rolling river of acoustic guitar and mandolin, carried along by Scott Warman’s insouciant double bass, and sprinkled with tasteful jews harp and lap-steel.
There are a few choice covers thrown in to complement the self-penned numbers, Dylan’s “Tomorrow Is A Long Time”, and the traditional “Haul Away Joe” which sees the band locked into a compelling mando-groove. Most appealing of all though is the bands acoustic approach to Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up”, which sounds like it was written on a back porch in the mountains of Tennessee, rather than the mean streets of Kingston, Jamaica.
Steve Bell’s “Flowers On The Sea” is another little gem nestling mid-album. A plaintive tale of tragedy and loss, with gorgeously lush harmonies taking centre stage coupled with a poignant lyric. Almost a maritime reply to “Love Vigilantes”!
“Dig Down Deeper” brings the bands pure bluegrass roots more sharply into focus and back to the fore, as it sails along nicely, anchored as ever by Scott Warman’s veracious upright bass playing, topped off with some sumptuous harmonica and banjo duelling.
Highlight of the album to these ears (at the moment!) has to be the beautiful Gregory-penned “Welcome To The Family”. The macabre lyric is at odds with the enchanting melody of the song itself but somehow it works to wonderful effect. The closing lines “People say that we’re crazy, they say that we’re mad – I know we ain’t evil and I know we ain’t bad – we just never got the breaks that other people had – welcome to the family”, taken in context with the rest of the song, can’t fail to move even the hardest of hearts.
This is an album that is packed full of well-crafted songs, performed by experienced and gifted musicians – seek it out and your efforts will be well rewarded.