This past week I have gone from not knowing/caring who the heck Steve Smyth is to becoming a little bit obsessed with him. There isn’t much about him online and maybe that’s the way he likes it – he does have a Twitter account (I totally checked) and a website, but it’s like a needle in a haystack to find much else.
Steve…wait, can I call him Steve? Steve Smyth is an Australian musician who opened for Snow Patrol last Sunday. To be honest, we didn’t know who he was, weren’t terribly interested in finding out, and were totally going to skip his performance. I know, I’m sorry, but you know what it’s like – the doors open at 7pm, opening act starts at 7.30 or 8. They play for like an hour then there’s at least a half hour (sometimes more) break until the people you actually paid for, came to see and listen to FINALLY take the stage and blow your socks off. I am a busy woman and that is a lot of waiting around time.
But, in the end, we did end up getting there at about 7.30-8pm, grabbed a drink and found our seats. Not too long after, the lights dimmed and a lone man with a guitar and a grizzly beard walked on stage. No introduction was made, he just started to play. And boy am I glad he did. Granted, much of the crowd was still arriving, settling in and enjoying their beverages so he didn’t capture the full attention of the large audience until about half-way through when he sung Sylvie sans guitar and everyone fell silent.
He doesn’t really fit into one category or another and I think that’s part of the reason I like him so much. He’s mysterious: his voice going from soft and beautiful, lyrics melting in your heart; to rough and rasping, the words cracking with heartbreak. His sound is mostly bluesy folk with country and rock elements. He plays like he is performing at the local inn on a busy Friday after a long week, with the flagons flowing, hobbits dancing on the tables and the serving girls getting their bottoms pinched by lonely travellers wanting a warm meal, cold beer and somewhere to rest their weary feet.
Other times, he’s more like a rogue cowboy, sitting in front a small campfire with a rat on a stick and vegetable broth warming up in an old copper pot, singing to his horse as he waits for daylight to come again.
He didn’t speak much, preferring to let his music do the talking. I felt like he really didn’t ever want to stop playing and at one point said that they would have to kick him off the stage in a minute!
His parents are ministers, not troopers; his hair is brown rather than fiery red; he plays a guitar rather than a lute, and he isn’t an arcanist trying to find out about the Chandria that killed his family long ago; but his songs are exactly the kind I imagine Kvothe singing in the Kingkiller Chronicles series. Yes, I am comparing Steve Smyth to a book character and now you all know just how nerdy I really am, but you guys, he is amazing.
I found his back story fascinating (and not completely unlike Kvothe’s relationship with Abenthy, just saying) and written like poetry. That man really has a way with words, bending them to his will and making a simple sentence sound magical. I am hooked.
So a few days after being wowed by this previously unknown phenomenon, I went out and bought his album, Release. Surprisingly enough, it was cheaper on iTunes than my usual store of choice, so it has been playing on my iPhone ever since.
His music won’t necessarily pump you up for gym class, make you feel better after a hard day or indeed make you cry yourself to sleep, but if you are after some new material that takes you away to another world, in another time and place, then this album is totally for you. It’s like books for your ears. And yes, that is a real thing.