Steve Smyth

Steve Smyth — Exits (September 5, 2014)

Australia Steve Smyth — Exits
 BEAUTIFUL ALBUM Steve Smyth — Exits & NOMINATED for 8th TAIS AWARDS 2015!
♣   Nádherný soundtrack na cesty. Jeho silný hlas překonává vše. Nikdo nemůže říci, že to není jedinečné a výrazné album. Z toho, co o něm vím, mi vychází, že se nejedná o žádné překvapení: Smyth strávil roky roamingu v ulicích Paříže a Londýna, trajdal po Evropě, Asii a Severní Americe. Zde poslouchal drsnou směs písní ve své hlavě, rojily se mu scrawling texty po útržcích papírků a zápisníků. Smyth a produkční tým Joey Waronker (Atoms For Peace, Thom Yorke, Beck) a Gus Seyffert ( The Black Keys, Norah Jones), nahrál "Exits" v Echo Parku ve stínu Hollywood Hills v přítomnosti ironického aplausu kojotů na protilehlých srázech. Je jasné, že tým pochopil navzájem zvukovou estetiku dobře. Nastal čas experimentovat a škádlit se o stanovení podrobností alba v relativním chaosu Seyffertova domácího studia. Ze Stevových vlastních slov to byl “dům plný zesilovačů, kde téměř nemůžete chodit ... nástroje pokrývaly stěny a podlahy.” Album Exits je svérázné, vstřícné na rozevřené dlani, krásné i tmavé. S maximálním rozpětí náruče — soudržné — jedinečné. V této rozlehlé soudržnosti jsou všelijaké poklady čekající na objevení nových jemnůstek po každém dalším poslechu. Navzdory svému názvu, Exits otevírá dveře do velmi zvláštního světa Steve Smytha.
♣   Earthy, soulful indie folk from this Australian journeyman singer/songwriter.                                                                © Richard Stow 2011 
Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Album release: September 5, 2014
Record Label: Ivy League Records
Duration:     43:56
01 Get On     3:29
02 Shake It     3:43
03 Digital Heart     4:21
04 Paris     3:54
05 Desolation Point     3:55
06 South Land     4:21
07 Written or Spoken     5:00
08 Manuscripts     3:44
09 Drovers, Sailors, Traders     3:41
10 Le Passant     3:14
11 Reaperbahn     4:34
2014 Ivy League Records
* Bob Dylan
* Leadbelly
* Dave Van Ronk
* Jeff Buckley
* The Tallest Man On Earth
* The Avett Brothers
* The Cave Singers
* Father John Misty
* Jason Isbell
* Bon Iver
By Meggie Morris | Published On September 6, 2014 | Score: 4.5 / 5 stars
♣   Behind his impressively rough-as-guts facial hair lies a heart-breaking tenderness that carefully reveals itself throughout Steve Smyth’s sophomore album. In Exits, the itinerant troubadour has created a sprawling soundtrack for travel that reflects his own seminal experiences traversing Europe, North America, Asia and his home Australia. The miscellaneous and unexpected nature of overseas encounters is manifest in the versatility of the album, shifting between rambling and rowdy Rock N Roll and tender, folk balladry with ease.
♣   The album opens with Get On, a gritty Rock N Roll track that brashly announces Smyth’s blues aesthetic and roaring voice. The stomping opener unfurls into another boisterous anthem Shake It, which integrates intelligent time signature changes with riotous guitars to captivate the listener’s attention. Digital Heart proves that Smyth is just as comfortable expertly soaring over a chamber string ensemble as he is growling along with a quintessential, raucous blues outfit. This unfolding expressive sensitivity leads into the serenading Paris. The evocative melody of the solo violin clearly captures the contentedly despondent beauty of the French city. The honeyed tone of Smyth’s voice is perfectly accompanied by a unison violin in its stunning refrain.
♣   The full band performances and gravelly vocals of Desolation Point and South Land are faultlessly placed in the album’s midsection. Drifting expertly between duplets and triplets, the addition of organ conjures images of a seasoned traveller navigating the deep south of America. In contrast, the intimacy and arresting melodies of Paris are once again established in Manuscripts, Le Pessant and Written or Spoken. The simple instrumentation of second single Written or Spoken particularly draws attention to the striking quality of Smyth’s voice, expressing a subconscious honesty and genuineness that renders me gut-wrenched and broken-hearted after every listening.
♣   Exits appropriately ends in the same manner in which it opened — propulsive, rollicking and robust blues rock, demonstrating the songwriter’s ability to switch easily and cohesively between dirty grit and intimate fragility. There is a sense of timelessness to the voice and song writing that comprises this body of work, which will remain as affecting in ten years as it did when I had Written or Spoken on repeat for an hour yesterday. Fortaken:
♣   That STEVE SMYTH’S Ivy League debut EXITS is a magnificent soundtrack for travel should come as no surprise. Smyth spent years roaming the streets of Paris and London, traversing Europe, Asia and North America. Here he listened to rough mixes of songs in his head, scrawling lyrics in dog-eared note books, teasing out arrangements on his guitar.
♣   Hailing from the NSW south coast, Steve Smyth’s music bears all the markers of the itinerant songwriter. The album opens with ‘Get On’, its bourbon soaked vocals, underpinned with junk yard percussion. Here the listener first encounters a taste of some of the sonic ideas on Exits distilled into song.
♣   As the rollicking ‘Shake It’ unfurls, the listener begins to pinpoint some of the album’s unifying elements, the integration of powerful vocals, intelligent arrangements and cranking guitar sounds, peppered with delicate harmonic flourishes. There’s ‘Digital Heart’ with its hazy, layered guitar sounds and sunlight-dappled string arrangements, the vocals evoking memories of a bygone time when how well you sung mattered.
♣   Smyth and the production team of Joey Waronker (Atoms For Peace, Thom Yorke, Beck) and Gus Seyffert (The Black Keys, Norah Jones) recorded Exits in Echo Park in the shadow of the Hollywood Hills with coyotes heckling from the escarpments.  It’s clear that the team understood each other’s aesthetics well. It was time to experiment and tease out the details of the album in the relative chaos of Seyfferts home studio. In Steve’s own words it was “a house full of amps, you couldn’t walk… instruments covered the walls and floors.”
♣   On a steady diet of Mexican beer they started to pull Smyth’s ideas and arrangements into focus, fleshing out the finer points. With the players convening in the living room and Steve in an adjoining bedroom with only a ribbon mic for company, it’s clear on the impossibly beautiful ‘Paris’ that a little intimacy goes a long way. The refrain of Smyth’s voice and the strings, words can’t describe how perfectly they work in unison. The full band performances that developed figure prominently in the album’s midsection, marked by the arrival of ‘Desolation Point’ and ‘South Land’. The pendulum swings again with ‘Written Or Spoken’, ‘Manuscripts’ and ‘Le Passant’, where once again we have Smyth delivering his trademark arresting vocal beauty.
The propulsive ‘Drovers, Sailors, Traders’ and ‘Reaperbahn’ are perhaps the tracks on the album which reminds us that Rock N Roll is alive and well and living in an itinerant from the South Coast. Certainly Smyth’s intention for Exits, was to push the dynamic range of his vocals to previously untested extremes, while still reminding us that the art of song writing is not dead.
♣   Exits is wayward, elusive, beautiful and dark. It rambles — cohesively — but is not lost. Within that rambling cohesion all manner of treasures await discovery, with new ones continuing to surface on every subsequent listen. In spite of its name, Exits opens a door that lets the listener into the very special world of Steve Smyth. Fortaken:
By Hazal Alkac,
By Double J, 1 Sep 2014
Artist Biography by Timothy Monger
♣   Australian singer/songwriter Steve Smyth blends a variety of influences into his earthy, soulful sound, from the barroom grit of Tom Waits to the wistful melancholia of Jeff Buckley. The son of two ministers, Smyth grew up traveling the country and was constantly surrounded by music. He took to the guitar early and was playing solo and in bands by his teenage years, taking in a mix of folk (Lead Belly, Dave Van Ronk) and rock (Radiohead, Nirvana) influences. He issued his debut album, Release, in 2011, after which he traveled Europe, acting on his wanderlust, touring, working, and writing songs for his follow-up. After signing with Australian indie Ivy League Records, Smyth traveled to Los Angeles to record his second album with a well-seasoned rhythm section featuring Joey Waronker (Beck, Atoms for Peace) on drums and Gus Seyffert (Norah Jones, the Black Keys) on bass. The album Exits was released in the summer of 2014.
Agent: Steve Strange at Xray Touring UK / Luke Morton at Harbour Agency AUSTRALIA