|Dimensions||22 × 16 × .50 cm|
Down in the Valley is an album of songs dealing with fundamental human concerns – love, hate, sex, death, injustice, survival. The covers on the album are largely traditional songs in a blues or country style, some dating back to the 1800s, or covers penned by Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie. The originals are stylistically in keeping and are co-written/arranged by all members. The album was recorded aiming to capture the live sound of the act. Live takes with minimal overdubbing. Thanks to guests Geoff Hassall on drums for six of the tracks and Vivienne McCrory backing vocals track 13. Plenty more original, blues and country/folk material is in the repertoire. Enjoy!
Review by Ian Dearden
In the liner notes for their debut album, “Down in the Valley”, Victorian-based Sheehan Smith Sheehan lay claim to addressing (in song) the fundamental human concerns – love, hate, sex, death, servitude and injustice. How can you possibly miss, with a canvas this broad, and the depth of talent these three performers (who came together in 2015) bring to the table (please excuse the scrambled metaphor!!)
The music itself draws deeply on the disparate roots of Americana – string band, blues, country and folk music. The songs include “Vigilante Man” from the pen of Woody Guthrie (arguably the progenitor of Americana), “Dollar Bill” from Townes van Zandt (one of Americana’s finest contemporary exponents, sadly missed), and “Walking Blues” from Robert Johnson (who was indisputably there at the birth of the blues). Fleshing out this seminal selection of songs are a range of other blues/roots/country covers, and four Sheehan Smith Sheehan originals in the same vein, which slip seamlessly into the running order of the album.
The key components for anyone seeking to mine this rich vein of musical gold are musicality and authenticity. To that end, the album was compiled from live takes, with minimal overdubs – in essence, a “barn album”. Guest performances come from Geoff Nassal, who provides kit drums on half the album, and Vivienne McCrory, who provides backing vocals on the last track.
Between them, Mark Smith, Dave Sheehan and Marni Sheehan share lead and backing vocals, and play acoustic and electric guitars, dobro, national steel guitar, mandolin and banjitar. The seven covers, two traditional songs and four originals which make up this album all demonstrate that Mark, Dave and Marni bring new life, vitality, superb musicianship and yes – authenticity – to this wonderful melange of blues, country and roots music which we now call ‘Americana’.
3 in stock (can be backordered)