This cover photo, published by Thirty Tigers, shows “The Fray” by John Smith.


HONS

From STEVEN WINE Associated Press

“The Fray”, John Smith (30 Tigers)

During the first song on John Smith’s new album, hand claps break out as if welcoming the emotions to come.

“The Fray” is the British singer-songwriter’s answer to the past year and offers 12 melodies of resilience, devotion and hope, with determination in the lyrics and buoyancy in the music.

“It’s been a crazy year. where do I start? “Smith sings, his sandpaper tenor is a voice of recovery.

The album’s melodic folk-pop, based on Smith’s subtle guitar work, has a calming influence (he records his moods in the liner notes). And he has excellent help: Bill Frisell offers an elegant guitar solo for “The Best of Me”, and Sarah Jarosz, Lisa Hannigan and the Milk Carton Kids support her with a charming voice.

The arrangements benefit from a pleasant variety. “To the Shore” swings like a shanty, the title cut is heightened by gospel piano, and “Just As You Are” is a waltz to heal.

“Hold On” is the heart of the set. With horns, angelic backing vocals, and a smart guitar riff, it’s good music and advice.

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