The Juliana Field

Early promise yet to be fulfilled

Smith’s debut album Throwing It All Away was greeted with considerable excitement in some quarters. On this follow-up, however, there’s a sense of going back to basics. Whether this is an aesthetic or a budgetary decision is uncertain, but my own prognosis is that, in production terms, the songs would benefit from a higher level of ‘fi’. ‘Way Back Home’ is just one example of Rob’s ability to pen a fine song but the production doesn’t make the most of it. ‘All In My Mind’ and ‘Shine On Let Me Be The One’ are solid, but it all comes good with ‘The Stomp Song’, which packs real punch and conviction. Overall, the simple pieces work best, like the appealing McCartneyesque tenderness of ‘Rue Saint Dominique’, while the instrumental ‘Marrakesh’ is a tantalising soundtrack waiting for the right film. All told, The Juliana Field is an interesting record from a distinctive voice. But next time out, I’d like to see what he’d achieve with a top producer at the desk.



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