Porchlight Smoker are a UK band who are essentially a bluegrass/folk band, but who take their music a beyond any strict definition of that genre. They have double bass, banjo and acoustic guitar well to the fore, but they play lap steel guitar, fiddle, accordion and pedal steel to broaden the sound. This sound is lively and uplifting with some strong singing and playing which gives the album its bite. The song Maria Kennedy sounds like one you have heard before, but is in fact a Steve Bell original which has all the hallmarks of a traditional folk classic. Bell is joined in the band by Scott Smith, Fred Gregory and Scott Warman. They produced the album themselves in Medway Studio in Brighton and have made a pretty fine job of it.
The band are responsible for all but one of the songs, an old time country reading of Jimmie Rodgers song Waiting For A Train. Their own songs are outstanding, like the aforementioned Maria Kennedy and A Day In Mid-July, which again sounds like a lost ballad. It features some ambient radio voices and a harmonica and focuses on the landmark day of the title. US75 is a fast moving song that tells of the highway of that name with mandolin, fiddle, dobro and banjo showing the band’s picking prowess. Another song that evokes a picture is Cleaner’s Rag, as it asks that you look out for your fellow man. Homeline seem set also in the US but suggest a physical and emotional border that has to be crossed.
This is another album that shoes how buoyant the home grown scene is in these Isles, with bands writing original material and delivering it with an understanding and skill that goes beyond the many copyists are nothing more than human jukeboxes turning out uninspired cover version of well know tunes. Here there are original songs played and sung well, ones that will have a lastingimpact. Porchlight Smoker can feel justifiably happy to have delivered such a satisfying, if undemanding, set of songs.