Americana roots duo Smooth Hound Smith have released a new album, Sweet Tennessee Honey, that is a heartfelt, hand-crafted union of folk, traditional country, Delta blues and modern rock and roll.
If you’ve never heard Smooth Hound Smith’s music before, you’ve been missing out on something special. Members Zack Smith and Caitlin Doyle have created a unique blend of alluring storytelling backed by dynamic percussion and funky electric guitar that will win you over after just a few shakes of the tambourine.
In a purely musical sense, Sweet Tennessee Honey continues the throwback vibe of their 2013 self-titled LP, but builds on it with a fuller, more mature sound. The duo recruited backing vocals from former Dixie Chicks member Natalie Maines and Texas singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz that help to enhance their already well-rounded tone.
The first track, “Knockin’ At My Door,” is the perfect introduction to their musical sound-story, which draws you in with a steady kick drum and funky slide guitar. This album is one that you’ll want to listen to through and through. There’s no filler here, as every song has its own set of qualities that keep you wanting more.
“Gettin’ Around” has the ability to stab you in the heart in a cathartic way if you’ve ever had a love that’s slipped through your fingers, while the groovy track “Stop Gap Woman” will make you want to dance on the bar at your nearest honky tonk. “My Heart’s Not Broken Yet” showcases Doyle’s pure and smooth vocal quality that shines brightly on its own. Highlighting each other’s talents is something that Smith and Doyle do well, and results in a true auditory gift to listeners.
Smooth Hound Smith are a duo on the verge. It can be easy to lazily compare them to Americana power-couple Shovels and Rope, and indeed they do share some of their musical counterparts’ best qualities.
Still, their sound is rooted in more of a modern, So-Cal inspired take on classic musical styles. There’s nothing disingenuous about the inclusion of biting kick drum or manic tambourine; it’s a crafted blend developed out of the influences and abilities of two musicians who have spent years developing their own sound.
Overall, Smooth Hound Smith’s music is easily accessible to fans of both alt-country and a more traditional sound. They have expertly crafted a sound that meshes together parts of many genres without sounding haphazard, which many artists have tried with a much less successful result.
There’s no kitsch here, just smart songwriting and creative sensibility in a genre that’s been overwhelmed with those trying to imitate those who’ve already found success. Their lyrics have attitude and a modern sense of humor that keeps their music fresh and entertaining. They talk about what they know, and that earnest sentiment is soaked through every single line.
Their blend of folk, rockabilly, zydeco, country and blues is something incredibly hard to perfect, but it’s something that Smooth Hound Smith has done with Sweet Tennessee Honey.