John Smith is a Spotify sensation having amassed over 40 million streams for his songs. On the podcast host CloudwatcherUno spoke with John about his childhood, his musical influences and his sixth album ‘The Fray’ which is released on Friday 26th March 2021 via Thirty Tigers.
Having become a professional musician at the age of 22 and playing pubs and clubs for three years, John started to make a name for himself. He became known for being a virtuoso guitarist, exceptional lyricist and singer with the kind of voice that is dripped in velvet. He crossed paths with Cara Dillon and Lisa Hannigan and started touring all over England, Ireland and Australia as a side man while making his own records. His reputation as a session musician grew as he played for Lee Ann Rhimes, Roseanne Cash, Joan Baez and Tom Jones.
Starting off playing with the piano, then drums John settled for the guitar as his instrument of choice and has been playing this iconic instrument and has been a good friend to him for the last 27 years. Growing up John spent his time day dreaming at school, getting terrible grades and generally hating the experience until he went to University to study music and then out into the real world where he could do whatever he wanted.
John is a man on a mission to save your ears from the tedium that passes for music out there on the internet. His sixth album was written as a response to the cards that life had dealt him at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Having had his remaining gigs in Australia cancelled followed by distressing family heartache there didn’t seem much hope of retrieving his life as a touring musician.
John had one remaining card to play and in September 2020 he went back into the studio to begin work on his new album. With the help of long time friend and producer Sam Lakeman life was breathed into songs that began life on paper. The album is a testimony to the craft of song writing, arrangements and production that has been John’s signature sound.
Smith reached out to fellow musicians across the world to record remotely or virtually onto the album – Jessica Staveley-Taylor of The Staves, Sarah Jarosz, Courtney Hartman, The Milk Carton Kids, and Bill Frisell from the Americas and Smith’s frequent touring partner Lisa Hannigan via a virtual studio session in Dublin and others added their magic to the album.
‘The Fray’ is a truly phenomenal album, that shows what it’s like to be vulnerable, to hold onto the dream of love when the reality and hard times has driven that to collapse.
John’s voice is the key to this album it takes your hand and carries you into a world that reflects the trails and tribulations of living life in the 21st century. ‘Friends’ is a love story to the bonds of friendships and all those souls who have come and gone and still mean that much in our lives. It showcases exquisite lyrics delivered by a voice from the gods. ‘Hold On’ is a beacon to us all that better times are coming and that we shouldn’t give up but find the will within ourselves to carry on living. ‘Eye To Eye’ is a plea to make things work out and making things right between lovers when all that remains is silence. ‘Deserving’ is the most honest song about love, heartbreak and wanting to be deserving of being in a relationship with another human being.
Update: On 28th March 2021 John played a show for fans to celebrate the release of the album. It was streamed live around the world by Mandolin as John performs from the legendary Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield.
Click below to hear the Artist Showcase podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring John Smith. Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict and wherever you listen to your podcasts.