Small Town Stories is the stunning debut album by husband-and-wife duo Emily Smith and Jamie McClennan, its ten tracks drawing on the couple’s shared life in rural south-west Scotland. It’s an intimate, uplifting and intensely beautiful record, reflecting the pair’s deep-seated affiliation with American roots music.
Influences include classic harmony duos The Civil Wars and Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, as well as stalwart Nashville singer-songwriters such as Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert, Darrell Scott and Kacey Musgraves. Produced by Ross Hamilton (Mark Lanegan, Isobel Campbell, Texas, Wolfstone) at Rocket Science in Glasgow, and mastered in Nashville, the album features eight original songs written by McClennan, the New Zealand-born fiddle player and guitarist, as well as a cover of Willow Macky’s Sixties peace anthem, ‘Better Than War’, and a stirring new arrangement of the traditional broadside ballad, ‘Sailin’s A Weary Life’.
Front and centre is Smith’s voice, an instrument of remarkable purity, capable of conveying the full spectrum of emotions on an album which tackles the universal themes of parenthood, addiction, separation, war, childhood, love and loss. Small Town Stories is the high point of a musical partnership which has developed over almost 20 years.
A hugely respected figure on the international folk scene, Smith is a former BBC Young Traditional Musician of the year, has twice been Scots Singer of the Year, received two BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominations and has released eight acclaimed solo albums of traditional music. McClennan has played in his wife’s band for 17 years, as well as performing with numerous other artists. Smith & McClennan is something new, however, marking the beginning of a more personal journey.