Acclaimed British neo-folkie John Smith's return with his fourth album Great Lakes (March 25) finds the songwriter and extraordinarily gifted guitarist emerging from a two-year period of writer's block with some of his strongest and most compelling songs. Three key names figure into Smith's creative rekindling: legendary producer Joe Henry (Bonnie Raitt, Aimee Mann) and Canadian tunesmith Dennis Ellsworth -- both of whom helped in co-writing -- and Irish songstress Lisa Hannigan, in whose band Smith often serves as guitarist. "I looked at my last two records and realized there wasn’t that much there for people to dig into," Smith reflects. "I think it had been too dense, too inaccessible. Why not try something new?" The result is collection of thoughtful, lovingly executed songs utilizing Smith's brilliant finger-picked intricacy as a backdrop for his gently rasped voice. Highlights include the John Martyn-styled "England Rolls Away" and "Salty and Sweet", a stark and lovely song featuring Hannigan on backing vocals.
Glen Hansard, Lisa Hannigan and John Smith