Gordon Smoker has seen some hard times. As a silver lining, this album pays tribute and thanks to those days, now gone and left as charted memories all too well suited for a musical reincarnation. Lancaster, PA is his hometown and they sure love him there. That's the most important thing really – to find that fan base and build. Smoker is influenced by hymns, and several 90’s genres including country, Christian rock, and Top 40. His talent led him to lead in a Christian rock band that gave him great experience, but ultimately fizzled. Following that, Smoker spent two months in India and four months in Haiti. During this time he developed new ideas on the world and a stronger voice to present with. His musical taste shifted when he returned to Lancaster, where he lifted spirits primarily in folk-infused works and by the books country. Well received and back in the prime, Smoker began touring and playing more often and gathering his knowledge of sound along the way.
"Before the Curse,” one of the tracks on Old City Night, showcases a touching chord progression that's almost made for harmonica. The way it slides in and out and edges the tone is pure stylistic magic. The guitar and cello glide along above the tap and slap of snare drum as the vocals take the listener away. And the harmonica solo - right on. Superb harmony opens "West of the Horizon" like something out of a Crosby Stills and Nash cut. It's the longest track on the album and fittingly the last. The vocals are on the verge of rasp, but it's a pure tone that sits on top of a few packs of smokes and maybe some day drinking. This song plays out like a story, and indeed it is.
These songs are all anecdotes of Smoker's life and have a lot to do with relationships both romantic and musical. The tempo is heightened just for the special track "Holland in the Springtime,” significantly brighter and jubilant than its counterparts. Not sure if conga is present or if it's the acoustic body, either way it's a nice touch.
"Old City Night" is a strong work and has a consistent tone throughout. Smoker makes great use of recharging ache and loss to channel great music and real feeling. There's an air of classicism going on, intriguing qualities, not surface value jargon. You can't quite put your finger on what it is, but you know it's there. This album has its own history, locked away in Smoker's mind, now free to be interpreted however it may be. But take notice. He's put a lot of emotion into Old City Night and these songs are by no means sleepers. Find the time to delve in and hang on the lyrics, really understanding the meaning behind them. If you don't stop and listen, you'll miss it.
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