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EMILY SMITH - Traiveller’s Joy

EMILY SMITH - Traiveller’s Joy
White Fall Records WFRCD004

In 2004 the nascent Emily Smith was prophetically described, in LT56, as ‘an emerging diva’ and ‘vibrant rising star’. Today, with an international profile she has, indeed, long since emerged and this recording should maintain her upward trajectory and offer, perhaps, potentially more commercial edge. Citing inspiration from Jane Austen, “If adventures do not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad”, there is a loose travelling motif to this beautifully produced and presented fourth solo CD.

Emily and husband (and producer) Jamie McLennan present four of her own very personal songs alongside contemporary rearrangements of traditional material and work by other songsmiths (including Richard Thompson and Rick Kemp). Emily’s clear, natural, sweet but strong, slightly Scots accented voice has garnered fair comparison with the likes of Cara Dillon, Julie Fowlis and Karan Casey. There is no doubting the strength and purity of her voice with its lilting cadences and dynamic range of modulation. Here – with the song and story – it is always centre stage at the forefront of the mix, and every nuance is captured with crystalline clarity.

Once again accompanying instrumental support is of excellent quality, but characterised always by empathy and discretion. Emily plays piano and accordion with other major accompanists Nashville fiddler and mandolin player Stuart Duncan, James Fagan (bouzouki), Signy Jakobsdottir (drums/percussion) and Duncan Lyall (double bass). The deeply melodious, eminently listenable and catchy arrangements, with several sonic hints and echoes of country and Americana, could provide wider commercial appeal if promoted as such. Some may find those qualities and the slickness of the production a little too smooth for their tastes; doubtless, I expect, so many more will be beguiled and captivated.

Kevin T Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 88 of The Living Tradition magazine.