Arts / Fred Smith’s ‘Great’ new album

CANBERRA singer-songwriter Fred Smith is often called a contemporary folk singer but his new album, “Great”, is something quite different – “a rollicking hayride through American history, politics and pathologies”.

Fred Smith. Photo by Geoffrey Dunn.

Smith can accurately boast that he is one of the few Australian songwriters who has both a US Marine Corps medal and a US merchant mariner’s license, in fact he is probably the only one. He spent four years in America working cruise ships and touring the Eisenhower interstate system, but, more significantly, he worked alongside American soldiers in southern Afghanistan where he was assigned by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

As most music lovers know the result was his exceptional album, “The Dust of Uruzgan”.

Now Smith is turning to the USA once more, now finding it deeply divided. The lead single, “What Could Go Wrong”, lampoons the contradictions that makes it impossible to take one’s eyes off Donald Trump.

“Like most of us, I grew up steeped in American culture: writers from O’Henry to Steinbeck, television from CHiPS to the A-Team, and 20th Century America produced musical stylings so sublime they have become universal mediums of musical expression,” Smith says.

In this double album the first disc includes 12 songs written and recorded in the classic American folk/country style – story songs, some funny, some sad, bringing to the fore Fred’s gift for melody and lyric, and his talent for inhabiting other people’s worlds.

The second disc is described as “a riot and a romp through songs and stories with American settings”, complete with accounts of characters fictional and otherwise.

“Great” is now embarking on a national tour, with Smith accompanied by Liz Frencham on double bass, Carl Pannuzzo on drums and piano, and one or two other “eminent sidemen”.

“Great” concert, at the Harmonie German Club, Narrabundah, this Friday, October 13. Bookings to 6295 9853 or tickets at the door.

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