Fox & the Monk [Import]
Having sold a carrier bag full of home-made CDs after his first gig supporting John Martyn, a 23 year-old John Smith took the money he'd made and recruited his then backing band for a short but intense studio session. Recorded in just ten days, 'The Fox and the Monk' - his debut album - was released in May 2006 and features many of the songs that have made his name on the British Folk scene. Songs like 'Winter' where John lays the guitar flat across his lap, tapping out a rhythm on it's body whilst bass line and melody tumble over the top; or 'Green Man', where the detuning of John's guitar becomes a crucial part of the swooping chorus. John's string arrangements lend a rich sense of melancholy to tracks like 'Corridors', a tale of disturbing hallucinations. His unashamed romanticism and warm lyricism pervade the earthy storytelling throughout. 'To Have So Many' is an intimate account of unrequited love, whilst 'The Hours' is a meditation on the fleeting nature of romance - "A touch is the feeling of all the world's kisses/Her eyes are a thousand smiles/Seeing her go after begging her no/I'm as pained as the tide run low". John has since played hundreds of shows and the songs have changed shape in their live setting, but this is a beautiful and raw album from a young artist at the beginning of his career.