Damon Smith and The Quality Lightweights – I Thought I’d Be Someone By Now (2011 LP)

Originally from Perth, now a resident of Melbourne, I Thought I’d be Someone by Now is the first album by singer/songwriter Damon Smith with his band The Quality Lightweights. The record is a slow burning journey through an emotive and atmospheric collection of folk songs, propelled along by Smith’s distinctively husky voice and penchant for lyrically dense storytelling.

These are late night tales, drenched in a heady atmosphere of reflection and self analysis, created with an emotional palette of rage, loss, joy and more than a touch of melancholia. With song titles such as the title track, “Oh God” and “Transfixed and Dumb”, there’s not a lot of cheerful pop moments to be found throughout the album’s ten tracks. In fact, Smith and company have so successfully captured this single mood, this moodiness and intimacy, that it can begin to feel a little depressing at points.

Musically, “I Thought I’d Be Someone by Now” is a stripped back affair built around Smith’s voice and the central elements of piano, organ and guitar. The band lend the record a certain amount of subtlety through their lyrically sympathetic performances, the drums, bass and guitar work never threatening to take the spotlight away from the story being told. The album is less a band than a solo project, although there are some terrific ensemble performances to be found, particularly on the catchy “So From Now”, where Dan Lethbridge’s lead guitar is an integral part of the arrangement. The song is also one of the best examples of The Quality Lightweights’ ability to strike a balance between a lovely melody and a raw, emotional performance.

Another highlight is the country-tinged “This Thing in My Chest”, a charming examination on the subject of love, which comes as something of a welcome relief amongst this somber-toned sea of songs. The song rolls along at its own jaunty pace while Smith’s piano and organ playing add a warm texture, the lyrics “I tried to achieve while I just perceived” being an example of the frank, confessional and dryly humorous style of songwriting to be found throughout the album.

Since the explosion of Mumford and Sons and their ilk, The Triple J charts have been filled with serious young men in sweaters strumming acoustic guitars and banjos, consequently it is a relief when one discovers a group that does it and means it. This is intelligent folk/pop music for those who like clever lyrics, a knack for melody and restraint used to yield a greater impact. This album comes recommended.

Originally posted on The AU Review on 08/09/2011. View original article.

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