One of the few Australian songwriters who has both a US Marine Corps medal and a US merchant mariner’s license, Smith’s musical musings come with a lot of knowledge and experience.
He spent four years in America, working cruise ships and touring the Eisenhower interstate system, and worked alongside American soldiers in southern Afghanistan. Now with the USA deeply divided, Fred Smith returns from the dust of Uruzgan to revisit his fascination for all things American.
With a release date of Friday 6 October, the new double album, Great, features his brilliant balladry balanced with some raucous piss taking, and brings to the fore his reverence and comprehension of American music and mythology.
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.
On the second disc, Fred lets the band off the leash – drums, bass, electric guitars and horns. It’s a riot and a romp through songs and stories with American settings – mostly wry but sympathetic accounts of characters fictional and otherwise. The lead single, What Could Go Wrong lampoons the contradictions in the Trump platform while celebrating mix of ebullience and bald faced egotism that makes it impossible to take one’s eyes off Donald J Trump.
So what’s an Australian songwriter doing writing American stories? “Fair question” says Fred. “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.”
In performance, Fred will be accompanied by an all-star band including Liz Frencham on double bass, Carl Pannuzzo on drums and piano, and one or two other eminent sidemen. His performance dates kick off at Fremantle’s Navy Club on Thursday 5 October – with selected dates throughout the ACT, New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria. For performance details, visit: www.reverbnation.com
For more information about Fred Smith and his music, visit: www.fredsmith.com.au for details.
Image: Fred Smith: Great (supplied)