I think that I’m actually starting to corner the market on singer/songwriters as today I have the pleasure of introducing you to yet another one. The artist in question this time around is Barnsley native Danny Smart and this is the follow up EP to his 2013 debut One More Night. A quick skim through his bio tells you that he was raised on the likes of Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters and Bob Dylan; personally I’ve never cared for Dylan but if you’re going to draw your inspiration from three artists that’s a pretty damn impressive three to choose.
The EP opens with what is the best track on the entire record by a country mile ‘New Man. It’s not that the rest of the EP is poor it’s just that I love this track that much. It was the lead single from the project and you can instantly tell why. The melody skips along and the hand claps mixed with a catchy chorus make this a perfect song for radio. The production is razor sharp, and in short I can’t stop playing it. It’s a feature of the EP as a whole but I love the understated defiance of the song-writing, here in particular with lines like;
“I don’t need no help from the man that they say lives up above” and “I don’t need no wide in this life time”
I also really like the turn of phrase “You built my hopes up high and then left my soul out to dry”
The track is essentially a defiant break-up song and frankly it’s about time men had a decent break-up track. Ladies you can keep Beyoncé we’ve got Danny Smart.
Next up is the country tinged ‘Moving On.’ It doesn’t have the same attitude as the opener although the subject matter is the same. If I had to sum the song up in one word that word would be ‘smooth.’ Like a drive in the country in the middle of summer the track just runs like a dream. One of the things that I really like about this track and Smart’s music as a whole is that he doesn’t try and over complicated things, it’s all about a good vocal, good song-writing and slick production. It really is as simple as that.
‘Love Ain’t On My Side’ picks up where the previous track left off with its feet firmly rooted in that country sound which you can’t help but love. It’s another solid track and I can’t really say anything different to what I said about ‘Moving On.’ It didn’t quite grab me in the same way as the other songs on the record but it’s hardly offensive; more very solid than breath-taking. This brings me onto the brilliant ‘She’s Mine.’ This is as simple as it gets; one man and his guitar, and it’s just fantastic. The track has got a real old school feel in the way that’s its put together and the way that Smart’s vocal takes the lead. In fact Smart’s delivery and song-writing mean that this tune has echoes of the Ray Charles classic ‘Hallelujah I Love Her So’ (Go and look it up kids it’s an absolute stone cold classic) Just replace the horns and the piano with an acoustic guitar and you’ll see what I mean. (Hopefully)
The final track on the record is a cover of the legendary Dolly Parton track ‘Jolene.’ And the track is a classic ladies and gentlemen, stop fighting it and just embrace it. I don’t even care if this cover is tongue in cheek because I just really like it. Smooth production and the now expected high quality vocal from Smart make this a really nice way to finish what is a fantastically enjoyable record.
Singer/songwriters are frankly ten a penny at the minute, they are bloody everywhere! So as a result to impress me you need to have more in your locker than that ‘one man and a guitar song around the campfire’ Schick and Smart definitely delivers on that front. I mean ‘New Man’ is honestly as good as anything that I’ve heard this year, I really like his song-writing style and his delivery coupled with his sincere vocal. As I mentioned I was a bit Luke-warm to ‘Love Ain’t On My Side’ but even that isn’t a bad track.
I think with a bit of luck Mr Smart could really be on to something here. His image is firmly based around the singer/songwriter tag but there is so much more to his music that that. This is the first time that I had heard the name Danny Smart but I have a feeling that it won’t be the last.
Moving On is out now.