Fred Smith in concert at Kindlehill

Smith: Love affair with American history, politics and music.
Smith: Love affair with American history, politics and music.

Renowned Australian singer-songwriter Fred Smith's new album Great is a rollicking hay ride through American history, politics and pathologies.

One of the few Australian songwriters who has both a US Marine Corps medal and a US merchant mariner's licence, Smith's musical musings come with a lot of knowledge and experience. He spent four years in America, working cruise ships and touring the Eisenhower interstate system, and worked alongside American soldiers in southern Afghanistan.

Now with the USA deeply divided, Fred Smith returns from the dust of Uruzgan to revisit his fascination for all things American.

The new double album features his brilliant balladry balanced with some raucous piss taking, and brings to the fore his reverence and comprehension of American music and mythology. Great is a remarkably eclectic double album collection of songs. The first disc includes 12 songs written and recorded in the classic American folk/country style – story songs, some funny, some sad, bringing to the fore Fred’s gift for melody and lyric, and his talent for inhabiting other people’s worlds.

On the second disc, Smith lets the band off the leash – drums, bass, electric guitars and horns. It’s a riot and a romp through songs and stories with American settings - mostly wry but sympathetic accounts of characters fictional and otherwise. The lead single, What Could Go Wrong, lampoons the contradictions in the Trump platform while celebrating the mix of ebullience and bald faced egotism that makes it impossible to take one's eyes off the president.

So what’s an Australian songwriter doing writing American stories?

“Fair question,” said Smith. “Like most of us, I grew up steeped in American culture: Writers from O’Henry to Steinbeck, television from CHiPS to the A-Team, and 20th century America produced musical stylings so sublime they have become universal mediums of musical expression.”

In performance, Smith will be accompanied by Matt Nightingale on double bass, and one other eminent sideman.

The show is a Kindlehill School, 8 Lake St, Wentworth Falls on Saturday, February 17 at 7.30pm. There will be light meals, sweets and refreshments available on the night before the show and during intermission. Tickets $25 adult /$5 under 18 pre-sale available from Katoomba Music, 140 Katoomba St, Katoomba. Or + b/f Online $26.50 adult (Including booking fees)/$6.50 under 18 (Including booking fees): www.trybooking.com/TJUC. Or on the door (unless sold out).