The Juliana Field is Rob Smith’s sophomore album and sees the Dublin based musician return to basics. The stripped back productions throughout the album shows Smith as an artist happy in his own skin.
The first track on the album is recent single Way Back Home, a catchy earworm of a song that will get in your head and stay there. Memorable hooks and hand claps do the trick nicely, thank you. The Stomp Song lives up to its reputation with a driving beat and bass line. Production wise on this track, everything is given room to breathe, however I think the track may have benefited from the vocals being a little higher in the mix.
It’s not too surprising that other places seem to feature in Smith’s music. After all, he’s one of the few Irish singer-songwriters who seem to play more outside Ireland than in it. Marrakesh is a interesting instrumental piece building up with guitar and percussion. Really like this, if Smith can produce more of this maybe he should go into soundtrack work. Rue Saint Dominique is a tender song with nice guitar style. It shows that Smith is really a big teddy bear, but shhh! Don’t tell anyone.
‘Shine On Let Me Be The One’ and ‘Just Fine’ show Smith tips a hat occasionally to his influences. Although here they are in their acoustic state, it’s not hard to imagine these being sung with the swagger of a 90s Manchester band.
Smith’s touch seem to be firmly in his cheek for ‘Diggers Blues’ and ‘Takin About People’. Both are uptempo acoustic guitar based songs. I’m not sure how many people would actually be able to fit the line ‘Who Died and made you King of the World?’ in a song.
The album ends with the title track ‘The Juliana Field’. Smith gives this an old school feel, complete with muted guitar and vinyl hissing noises. I didn’t tell you either, there’s an extra little hidden track at the end.
All in all, The Juliana Field sees Rob Smith mature as a songwriter and musician. It’s a good step forward from his debut. For album number three I’d love to see him rock out with a full band production.