Porchlight Smoker – Water Into Sand
Artist: Porchlight Smoker
Album: Water Into Sand
Having already produced, according to many happy show attendees that night, arguably one of the best live performances of the Square Roots year, it was always going to be intensely fascinating to see if Porchlight Smoker could transfer their undeniable qualities from the live stage to the ‘difficult’ 3rd album syndrome. But fear not, as not only do these boys have more top tunes than should be legally allowed, but here they are all gathered together under one auspices to form an absolute corker of an album that will guarantee to have you singing along at the top of your voice (whether that’s a good thing or not!) in no time at all.
At the very heart of the album, the Porchies possess two genuinely top class songwriters in Fred Gregory and Steve Bell, and those songs are given life and meaning by a band, including the two Scotts (Warman and Smith), that are as versatile as they are talented.
Categorising artists is not something I take any great delight in, but sometimes it is a necessity in forming a starting basis for newcomers to a particular artist. I have been guilty in the past of calling Porchlight Smoker a bluegrass band, when of course in reality they are so much more than that – their own unique mix of American roots with a distinctly British twist is at times a joy to behold, and “Water Into Sand” cements their place in the upper echelons of the UK Americana / Roots scene.
Cherry picking highlights would be Steve Bell’s “Maria Kennedy” with it’s beautifully constructed chorus, all lush strings, soaring harmonies driven along by Warman’s indolently heart warming double bass. Closely followed by the Fred Gregory penned “Man In A Boat”, an allegorical finger pickin’ fishin’ tune, which bounces along nicely on the back of a cunningly simple melody and Gregory’s trademark understated vocals. “Mary Mary” is a fitting album opener, with Scott Smith taking centre stage. A more overtly bluegrass-influenced song, it’s banjo infused rhythm is a dish best served loud!
For those that are new to the Porchlight Smoker name, there is plenty here in “Water Into Sand” to admire and investigate further time and again, and for existing converts rest assured that the band have once again come up with the proverbial goods. Here is an authentic roots band that have firmly established an identity, and are exploring fully the avenues of creativity that it’s individually musically gifted members bring to the collective that is Porchlight Smoker.
If we did start ratings, this would be a 4.5 out of 5!!