This could have been the great album its title suggests, but then Fred Smith is not the first artist to mistake a single album’s worth of material for a double. Unexpectedly (given he is as Australian as an emu), Smith has given all the songs American settings, his explanation being his childhood immersion in US culture, his years spent there and his work alongside US forces in Afghanistan. A much greater oddity is that, despite this, the more acoustic songs on the first disc and his delivery of them don’t just ring with truth, they toll with the stuff.
Smith had already established himself as one of our finest lyricists, and with this best material here he shows true mastery of crafting melodies and marrying them to the words without recourse to a shotgun. Add his natural wit, keen powers of observation, unassuming delivery and understated accompaniment and he effortlessly draws you into the world of each of these character-driven songs. The problem is that too many of the pastiche-style tunes on Disc Two are mere novelties. His anti-Trump anthem What Could Go Wrong, however, should be heard.