Full Price: £15
This gig was originally scheduled for Saturday 30 May 2020 but has been rescheduled to 16 September 2021 due to COVID-19.
Against the backdrop of a universally difficult 2020, songwriter and guitarist John Smith found himself facing personal and unrelenting change.
“With newfound pain coming from so many directions, dealing with the uncertainty it brings, I closed the curtains and picked up the pen, turning to song writing as a lifeline.”
It’s unsurprising that the new songs reflect a shift in priorities. On his new album ‘The Fray’, Smith gives us an uplifting perspective on the path forward, but pays beautiful homage to the difficulties along the way.
Smith co-wrote a couple of songs for the album whilst on tour before the pandemic. Driving a rental car from Asheville to Nashville, John stopped to write the standout track ‘Eye to Eye’ with North Carolina-based Sarah Siskind. The Americana influence is a red thread throughout the album which beautifully compliments Smith’s unmistakeable British Folk roots.
‘The Fray’ is Smith’s sixth studio album, and his vulnerability throughout is offered to his listeners, unadorned. Recorded down the road, at Real World Studios in Box, Smith co-produced with long-time friend and producer Sam Lakeman. Working with pianist Jason Rebello (Sting, John Mayer), bass player Ben Nicholls (seth Lakeman, Nadine Shah), Drummer Jay Sikora (Paolo Nutini) and Jessica Staveley-Taylor of The Staves. The album is a true reflection of the times, with American collaborators Sarah Jarosz, Courtney Hartman, The Milk Carton Kids and Bill Frisell recording remotely and sending contributions over the international borders. John’s frequent touring partner Lisa Hannigan contributed via a virtual studio session in Dublin.
“It’s been a hell of a year, but I feel I have created my most honest work as a result, and as a necessity. A lot of these songs are about accepting that life is hard, but just holding on and trying to enjoy it anyway.”
Smith was born in Essex and raised on the Devon Seaside. Known for his intimate song writing, his honey-on-gravel voice and pioneering guitar playing, he has spent the last fifteen years touring internationally and has amassed over 40 million streams on Spotify. As a session musician he has played guitar with artists as diverse as Joan Baez, David Gray, Joe Henry, Lianne La Havas and Tom Jones.
‘Wonderfully unforced’ The Independent
‘He’s a magician’ Ben Howard
‘Spellbinding’ Time Out
‘The guitarists’ guitarist’ The Sunday Times
‘Staggeringly good’ Acoustic Magazine
The Fray – out now