The debut full-length by Good Good Blood begins with the sound of what could be a fire crackling in the hearth, or a typewriter spitting out language onto the page. Sparks or thoughts, before a gentle melody emerges and a lo-fi tone is established. From there James Smith takes the listener into his world of grey Northern England solitude, where peace is found in quiet moments and depression is addressed with gentle melody and self-reflection
James Smith has been releasing music by himself and others for three years on his label Fox Food Records. For his first full-length album, Songs From Where I Live, Smith takes his gift for delicate songwriting and directs it toward a personal account of his own experiences. His songs have always been heartfelt, but there’s a new sense of proclamation on Songs From Where I Live.
Written and recorded at home during the first week of January 2017, the album was born out of a long bout of depression where the act of musical creativity was cathartic and self-affirming. Each song is a diary entry, capturing pieces of Smith’s inner world during those winter days. Smith cuts through distracting metaphors and pretense to direct the listener to a core of subjective expression. Using a purposefully scaled-down recording set up allowed him to authentically document each moment to tape, enhanced only by some live field recordings from the rural surroundings of his hometown of Mirfield, West Yorkshire.
This is very much an album rooted in finding a sense of place, physically and spiritually. There are echoes of Alex G and Mount Erie at work, uplifting moments that signal rebirth and growth, and lyrical themes focusing on life, mental health, family and ultimately, the grounding embrace of the little Northern England town where he lives. The mellow and meticulous acoustic strums of ‘Fallen Leaves’, the sucker-punch of ‘Don’t Smoke’ and the experimental edge of the evocative ‘This Is Just The Way I’m Feeling,” Songs From Where I Live sees Smith’s soul laid bare, a testament to the power of winter and the beauty found in the persistence of creating art out of despair.
Songs From Where I Live is out on New Paltz NY’s Team Love Records on April 21, 2017.