Smithfield Fair,
Walking Through This World
(Stevenson, 2006)

Based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Smithfield Fair brings to mind an un-updated Peter, Paul & Mary from the latter 1960s. That is to say, they reside in the period after traditional folk songs had largely vanished from the repertoire, replaced by mostly self-penned, vaguely folkish reflections on the anxieties of the middle-aged and middle-classed.

This is the 10th recording by the quartet, which is led by David Praet. Titles include "The Scent of Pencil Shavings," "Flowers in Her Hair," "One Fine Summer Evening," "In My Wildest Days" and "Kicking Frang."

This is not to my taste. If it is to yours, this is for you.

by Jerome Clark
13 January 2007

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Smithfield Fair's 10th album, Walking Through the World, features a collection of self-crafted songs and tunes composed between 2004 and 2006, in addition to three titles from the 1980s. The CD is a kind of retrospective to the band's roots and an appreciation of the musicians that influenced them.

The Louisiana-based band includes Jan Smith (accordion, guitar and vocals), her husband Dudley-Brian Smith (vocals, guitar, mandolin and recorders), their nephew Frang Bladen (bodhran, percussion and vocals) and Dudley's brother Bob Smith (vocals and acoustic bass). They are joined by J. David Praet (acoustic guitar) and Merel Bregante (percussion, drums and vocals) as guest musicians and co-producers.

The title track starts with hauntingly beautiful and harmonic singing, certainly one of Smithfield Fair's most remarkable strengths. But the band also shows perfect musical arrangements and beautiful song writing. 1984 Dudley wrote "In the Air," a brilliant song and perfect showcase for Ian Smith's beautiful voice.

American folk, country, gospel, as well as Celtic music and the sounds of the '70s are the ingredients for a great musical work. Merel and Frang's bodhran, percussion and drums, the guitars and bass create the inspired rhythms, while Ian Smith on the accordion and David Praet on lead guitar play the beautiful harmonies. A good example is "You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone."

My favourite instrumental track is Dudley's "Kicking Frang," with the exceptional playing together of Frang on bodhran and Ian on accordion. The CD ends with the melancholic song "God Never Sleeps," another sample of the band's beautiful harmonic singing.

Smithfield Fair manages to entrance the listener with beautiful melodies, stunning vocal performances and brilliant rhythms.

by Adolf Goriup
22 December 2007