Album Review of
Dust Bowl: American Stories

Written by Mark Gallo
July 23, 2017 - 12:00am EDT
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Grant Maloy Smith is a new name to this writer, but one he will remember. Smith’s is a classic sound, as wide and expansive as the rolling tundra and as innocent as the wind. Based on his research into and ultimate fascination with the dust bowl in Oklahoma and Texas in the 1930s. The 13 original songs paint a picture of despair, as on the opener, “Old Black Roller,” on which he sings, “Dust might choke up/Lord, let us prevail/We’re from Oklahoma/We’re hard as horse-shoe nails.” But, there are also songs about love lost, as on “So Far Away” and “Ride That Train.” The over-arching theme is hope. Smith wrote all of the songs, plays guitar and sings. He’s backed by a handful of impressive players, especially Rob Ickes on dobro and lap steel, Mike Johnson on pedal steel, and a handful of fiddle players. Smith reminds at times of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, which is to say that he is A wholly impressive and emotive singer. “Isha A Lhamko” is an Indian’s perspective on the dust bowl and “Never Seen the Rain” is the view from 1935. “I Come From America” is anthemic and “Daddy, If You Have To Go” is a sad tale of losing a parent. The tunes here are all recommended as the work of a talented musician and lyricist.