I think this is a really fine album. I took a bit of a risk on it as I'd not heard John Smith's work before, and I'm really glad I did. It is full of melodious, intelligent songs and some lovely instrumental work.
John Smith is a folk artist from Devon who often sounds older and more world-weary than his still relatively young age. The title Great Lakes sounds rather Americana-ish and Smith isn't afraid to sound faintly Country at times (on Freezing Winds of Change, for example), but he has a distinctly English style of his own with a husky, haunting voice, fine guitar work and a beautifully produced sound from a very good small band. It is hard to categorise him, but there were echoes of John Martyn, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and even Billy Bragg in various places, and I caught a hint of Springsteen, too, in songs like Town to Town.
John Smith is a songwriter of real quality and a fine performer. Great Lakes was a joyful discovery for me and I would warmly recommend it as a beautiful, thoughtful and sometimes very moving album