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Smith & Wesley

Choices & Chances – 2015 (Garage Door)

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

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CDs by Smith & Wesley

Smith & Wesley, fronted by two brothers, Scott and Todd Smith, boast a keen ear for melody and a heartbeat for the songwriting that has made country what it is. Drawing from those deep roots of family and fandom, the duo debuts with "Choices & Chances." Designed as something of a concept record, with the songs intentionally beginning with tales of decisions made and the oft-times painful consequences that follow that then merge into stories of "courtship, love and reflection," the album ably follows along the classic country trail.

The rocking "Thirty Pieces" leads off, filled with bluesy guitar hits and throbbing bass as Scott's able vocal carries forward a lyric of hard living. "Whiskey" follows after with smooth swells of electric guitar and radio ready country-flavored rock while "Bottles Half Full" rolls in with a bit of playful tongue in cheek, the bouncing melody accenting the fun. Bursting with modern country flair is "Need Somebody Bad," tasteful banjo runs accenting another warm, radio-ready arrangement that pulses with energy as "Roll On Smoothly" is a solid mid-tempo listen.

"Save Me" finds the vocal reminiscent of Willie Nelson at points while the bluesy musical arrangement perfectly fits the lyric of a plea for help and opens the way for soulful ballad "Prove My Love." "You're the One" builds on that lyrical template, offering up a message of love while framed by a warmhearted musical backdrop and is followed by the heartfelt "I Love Loving You," the swells of steel guitar lending a touch of country credibility. The brother's harmony shines on "Sweet Life" as they sing of country living and bring the album to a close with "Country Dreams," ending on a high note.

Packed with rich musicianship and an obvious love for country music, this duo's debut is one definitely worth listening to.