San Francisco, California artist Scott Smith continues fulfilling his life-long dream to become a songwriter with his latest project, a five-track EP titled Down To Memphis released in November 2016, the Americana-country-rock singer and songwriter’s vocals are raw, with the emotions they effortlessly convey further enhanced by the rich yet simple instrumentation. Just like in his previous (and first) release, 2015’s The Sum of Life, an extra layer of emotion comes from the thoughtful and sometimes poignant lyrics that tell story after story, all of which aim to either give advice or inspire others.
Not that the advice is always heavy and hard to follow. In “Just Another Saturday Night” Smith focuses on the simple pleasure of an evening dedicated to music as a much-needed break from the other six days laden with chores, work, and errands.
The other four tracks, however, touch on much more substantial topics. In “Down to Memphis” Smith mentions how proud he is of belonging to a place where musical greats such as Elvis and Johnny Cash are from. But the track isn’t just an homage to them; Smith shares his own ambition to become such a star himself, his determination reflected in the track’s gentle yet relentless drive forward.
It seems fitting that a song built on a throbbing jazz-flavoured beat is titled “Hourglass,” as both the genre and the form convey a certain sexiness. Most striking in this number is the smooth piano solo around the halfway mark.
The delicateness of “Top of the World” seems to convey the elusiveness and precious nature of feeling the way the title suggests. The tempo is slower here that in most of the other numbers in the set, as if Smith is tip-toeing around a fragile wonder.
“Skeleton and Roses” features the organ, a perfect choice to convey the kind of drama the title seems to imply the number is based on. However, Smith goes in a completely different direction, surprising listeners by being upbeat and cheerful.