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Porchlight Smoker - 4 (Long Way Home Music)
Brighton-based British/American alt-country quartet Porchlight Smoker return with just under a dozen predominantly self-penned originals on this the band's fourth album release, aptly entitled 4 (Four). The band's choice of covers sit well with their original songs, such as Gillian Welch's mournful Annabelle and a rather faithful reading of Ben Harper's heartbreaker Walk Away, both of which are treated to distinctive arrangements here. There's some fine and engaging storytelling, such as Steve Bell's Loch Nan Dorb and The Clearances, both of which demonstrate the band's folk sensibilities.
With convincing vocals courtesy of all four members Steve Bell, Fred Gregory, Scotts Smith and Warman, the album flows with a showcase of melodic songs and with one or two surprises along the way, such as Gregory's entertaining This Little Secret and Shoulda Dun Better at School, together with the charming instrumental Passchendaele Waltz.