Photography by Kendall Wilson
In a genre still shaking in the wake of Chris Stapleton and quickly filling to the rafters with gigantically-voiced, roaring male vocalists, Eddy Smith has consistently proved himself a competitive set of lungs that would not be an overstatement to compare to legends like similarly scratchy Otis Redding.
Filling the Saturday night prime time slot on the Front Porch stage at the Long Road, Eddy and his five piece band brought their particular fusion of country, blues, gospel and blue-eyed soul, taking the crowd both high and low with tracks from across only four years of a back catalogue that seems much more seasoned.
Playing opposite the headliners, Blackberry Smoke, would have sunk a lesser act, but Eddy and the boys create their own mini arena - Eddy's voice bouncing and bleeding across it as more and more people joined the crowd.
'Ticket Out Of Here' was an opportunity to showcase their polished and elegant harmonies, starting slowly with a twangy, uplifting guitar before ripping into a honky tonk swell at the halfway point. Stalwarts of the festival scene, they know exactly when and how to slow things down to a reverent gospel thrum, helped along by multi-instrumentalist Eddy's proficiency on the keys. 'Love Sick' is a crowd-pleasing romp that allows the tight-knit band to show how effortlessly they play together.
At times the vibrato in Eddy's voice is so strong that his entire body shakes with it, as he ploughs through tracks from his forthcoming album, Right Up 'til Now, due on 29th September. 'The Ballad Of Bobby Grey' is one such track, telling the story of a ship which sets sail never to return, passing into legend.
It’s a sad ending for Bobby, but a brighter beginning for Eddy. He may still be in the beginning of his career as one of the premier artists in the UK country scene, but what a beginning it's been.
Taken from his performance at The Long Road festival in Leicestershire, UK on Saturday 26th August.
For more on The Long Road festival, see below: