Vancouver guitar ace Scott Smith sends out a Lifeboat for pedal-steel fans in these trying times
By Steve Newton
I first became aware of the six-string talents of Vancouver’s Scott Smith when he sent me a copy of his blues-rock trio Terminal Station’s Rolling All Night album back in 2009. I also knew of his fine work with Bottleneck, the country-roots quartet he fronted with Robyn Carrigan, and his guest appearances with the raucous Rich Hope and His Evil Doers.
Then I got blown away last year by his seventies-style riff-rocking on the Rock N’ Roll Circus album Bottle Rockets and Cherry Bombs, which turned out to be my fave local release of 2019.
Now the ever-impressive Mr. Smith has shelved the boogie in favour of beautiful pedal steel-based music that’s perfect for chilling out to amid all we’re coping with right now. He composed eight tranquilizing tracks in quarantine last month and has just released them as Lifeboat: Explorations in Pedal Steel.
“[It] was my way of dealing with the feelings of isolation and loss that I was going through,” writes Smith in the liner notes. “Influenced by the music of Daniel Lanois, Greg Leisz, Jerry Garcia, Bill Frissell, and Jim O-Rourke, hopefully these sketches and soundscapes will bring some calm and peace to you as well.”
Smith plays pedal steel, electric and acoustic guitars, piano, and bass on the album, which was recorded and mixed at his home in East Van and mastered by Rock N’ Roll Circus vocalist Christopher Woudstra at Emerson Street Studios.