Smith & Burrows may sound like a hardware store in a remote, timeless village somewhere in deepest darkest Yorkshire, the sort of place that hasn’t changed for the best part of fifty years but that can always be relied upon to sell you exactly the right type of screws you were looking for, where as in actuality they are a musical duo made up of Tom Smith and Andy Burrows.
Tom Smith will be better known to you as the lead singer with Birmingham band Editors and Andy Burrows, whilst having a substantial back catalogue of solo material, will probably be more widely remembered for his roles in Razorlight and We Are Scientists. The pair formed a friendship many, many years ago and that originally culminated in them releasing an album of Christmas themed songs almost a decade ago. Their debut album, ‘Funny Looking Angels’, released in November 2011, featured covers that included Katie Melua’s ‘Wonderful Life’ and Yazoo’s ‘Only You’ and was characterised by it’s soft harmonies and Folk-centric instrumentation.
‘Only Smith & Burrows Is Good Enough’, the duo’s latest release, is similarly framed (Minus the Christmas influence) but with a much broader palete than it’s predecessor. Recorded in Nashville with multiple Grammy Award winning producer Jacquire King (Kings Of Leon, Tom Waits, Editors etc) before the CoVID19 pandemic hit, it is a record that seems to be infused with positivity. Tom Smith is very happy with the results, explaining, “We had some of that downtime where we could get together and go away and record these songs with someone who just got them. You sort of take it for granted at the time, but looking back now, it feels very special.” Getting together and going away is nothing new to the pair, they’ve both been holidaying with each other, and their families, for years.
The ease with which Smith & Burrows get on is clear to see with how they both describe their working relationship, but also in how that manifests itself on record. Both Smith and Borrows have produced some great, widely differing music over their careers but none of it closely approximates the music they make together. Editors are known for their dark brooding soundscapes and Razorlight their Indie Power-Pop bangers, neither of which are evident here.
The new album has already given up three of it’s tracks as previous singles. The first of these, ‘All The Best Moves’, released in June last year, is also the opening track to the album and is a track the pair have been performing since the Editors tour of 2018. ‘Old TV Shows’ and ‘Parliament Hill’ complete the trio of tracks that pre-date the album with all of them showcasing the combination of skills that Tom and Andy have brought to their partnership.
“I’m (considered) the dark guy!” Tom says, “But I remember working on Old TV Shows. Andy wrote the verse, I wrote the chorus. He’s doing this outpouring of real sadness then I swan in with: ‘Don’t worry, it’s in the past, it burned too brightly, move on!”
Their new ten track record contains all self penned songs, including the three singles released so far. Elsewhere, ‘Buccaneer Rum Jum’ is a playful, reflective song with a great piano hook and muted horns, ‘Spaghetti’ plays the vocal more to the fore and ‘Bottle Tops’ is a joyful, breezy song that echoes early 80’s electro but with a Folktronic twist. There’s an anthemic gig closer in the waiting with penultimate track, ‘Too Late’ and a demonstration of vocal talents on the album’s close out track, ‘Straight Up Like A Mohican’.
“It’s the most idyllic musical getaway that I could ever have dreamed of having” says Andy Burrows. It’s been a long time in the making with some of the songs having been conceived a decade ago but the pair have finally nailed their second album, having recorded it over “six summertime weeks in Tennessee.” ‘Only Smith & Burrows Is Good Enough’ sees the pair of protagonists embrace their mellow, harmonic side to deliver up a delightful curiosity that is both light and legitimate.