Outside of the Jewelled Antler outfit Thuja, Steven R. Smith doesn’t play much with others. Instead the Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist records alone at home, assembling moody soundtracks for inward journeys back to the age of steam.
So it means something when the guy records with anyone else, and it means more that he’s made two LPs in a row with Gareth Davis. Given that the Amsterdam-based clarinetist tends to play modern classical repertoire and records with the likes of Martin Stig Andersen and Machinefabriek, they aren’t an obvious pairing, but that might make it an even better one.
The Line Across, much more than their first LP Westering, is a departure from Smith’s body of work. While analog effects, exotic instruments like the spike fiddle and nail violin, and a warmed-up tube amp define his sound, Smith is at heart a tunesmith, a writer and player of melodies.