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Smith, Matt: 1988 to 2020: Volumes 1, 2, 3 & 4

If you have been reading my recent reviews you will have come upon the name Matt Smith, a musician hailing from Austin, Texas where he runs his 6 String Ranch. Last year he released a series of volumes, compiling tracks from various albums coinciding where the artist was living at the time. There are four volumes (CDs) in total but there are no musician credits listed. From his other releases one can assume Smith adds guitar and vocals on all the tracks, and as expected his vocals and guitar playing is top notch. In Volume 1 there are a total of thirteen tracks taken from four albums. The first three tunes are from his album titled Matt Smith Band. We begin with “Happy Jack”, a melodic rootsy rock tune with outstanding drums and bass. “Elevator Of Love” is more bluesy with soulful lead vocals and fiery guitar. “Shine Your Light On Me” is a pretty ballad, the playing more restrained but no less effective. “Dancing on the Blue Ball”, taken from the Whisper To A Scream album, is a catchy ballsy rocker with burning guitar riffs whereas the lightning fast “Lickety Pick” features some awesome picking on banjo, guitar and bass.

Three tracks are taken from Live at The Ritz, including the searing funked up rock of “House Of Fire” featuring nice use of horns, fantastic bass, and Smith’s squelching lead guitar. Four tracks are featured from the Delta Radio disc including the smooth pop rocker “Suspended”, really catchy and upbeat with perky keyboards and catchy saxophone.

Volume 2 corresponds to Smith’s living in NYC from 1994-2005. Thirteen tracks with four albums represented beginning with the Black and White disc’s “Beauty and Light”, featuring Smith’s tender guitar in what is perhaps the most uplifting track in the set. “Shelter From The Storm”, not the Dylan classic, is a smooth slice of R&B featuring wonderful Hammond and Smith’s guitar taking center stage. Some of his best playing on the disc. For a country flavour, the acoustic led “Holy Ground”, from the Big Fun album is one of the more poignant offerings. “Big Fun” is just that, a country rock hoedown that will have your feet tapping for sure. The remaining six tracks are culled from the Free Beer and Chicken and Chop Shop albums with “Tough Guy” being an absolutely searing rocker.

Volume 3 covers 2005-2011 when Smith lived in NYC and Austin. Highlights include the heart wrenching and soulful “How It’s Gotta Be”, the R&B classic “A Rainy Night in Georgie” with delicious backing vocals and a wonderful horn arrangement, the irresistible R&B ballad “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” and the pretty acoustic guitar in “Jesus In Mexico”, channelling Bruce Springsteen.

Volume 4 takes a look at his most recent albums, Chop Shop Live At Strange Brew, Parlor and Matt Smith’s World Live At The Saxon Pub. You can check out reviews of each of these albums on this site, the band really cooks in a live setting and Parlor has Smith exploring his acoustic side which is no less entertaining.

For an introduction to Smith’s take on R&B, blues and roots rock, these volumes will let you explore one of the finest guitar players out there. Easily recommended.

Track Listing:
Vol. 1 Upstate NY, 1988-1994
From the album: Matt Smith Band
1. Happy Jack
2. Elevator Of Love
3. Shine Your Light On Me
From the album: Whisper To A Scream
4. Dancing on the Blue Ball
5. Lickety Pick
6. Reason To Be
From the album: Live at The Ritz
7. House Of Fire
8. Runnin’ Just as Fast as I Can
9. Falling In Love Again
From the album: Delta Radio
10. Perfect World
11. After All These Years
12. Not That I’m Afraid Of Love
13. Suspended

Vol. 2 NYC, 1994-2005
From the album: Black and White
1. Beauty And Light
2. Big White Moon
3. Ballad Of The Lower East Side
4. Shelter From The Storm
From the album: Big Fun
5. Holy Ground
6. Big Fun
7. Greenfield Grove
From the album: Free Beer and Chicken
8. Ashes On The Wind
9. One Perfect Moment
10. Montreal
From the album: Chop Shop
11. Tough Guy
12. Alo Moana
13. Djeet Yit?

Vol. 3 NYC/Austin, 2005-2011
From the album: What I Feel For You
1. A Rainy Night In Georgie
2. Save Your Love For Me
3. Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying
4. I Wish You Love
From the album: Meet The Monstas
5. I Want To Love You
6. Junkie For Your Love
7. Jesus In Mexico
From the album: Matt Smith’s World
8. Struggle On
9. Six Degrees Of Separation
10. How It’s Gotta Be
11. Hot Club Of Brooklyn

Vol. 4 Austin, 2011-2020
From the album: Chop Shop Live At Strange Brew
1. Trust Yourself
2. Love The One You’re With
3. Shades Of Grey
From the album: Parlor
4. Daydreams
5. First Love
6. Isla Mujeres
7. Traveling Man
From the album: Matt Smith’s World Live At The Saxon Pub
8. Simple Song
9. Walk The Talk
10. Dance With Me

Added: May 9th 2021
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 344
Language: english

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