THE ANDY SMYTHE BAND Nation Of The Free Dreaming Element Records All the energy Andy Smythe saved thinking of some clever name for his band was not wasted. For the uninitiated, the no-nonsense moniker and sleeve design somehow suggest 16 wheel trucking, swigging cold beer from bottles and plenty of full blooded fret board finger-wiggling. True, Barry Targett’s accomplished strings never disappoint, but that is where the metaphors must end. No – Smythe’s concentrated efforts into the money shot deserve success. This isn’t blues, but do not discard it. “Folk” is too thin a categorisation for this multi layered, intriguing debut - a thoughtful collection of strongly written, socially aware, revved-up warbling with plenty of light and shade with the title track raising the curtain powerfully. Smythe unashamedly wears political colours and hopes for a new world in ‘Obama’s Song’ (...two black girls playing on the White House lawn....) . Subtle production marries with some beautifully understated accompaniment by Targett and Les Elvin on bass, and the Morrissey/ Neil Young / Paul Heaton quality to Smythe’s voice winsomely enhance the delivery of his message. Diction and vocal precision are oft-neglected elements to be appreciated when presented like this. ‘Changing Seasons’ stays with you long after it ends and an interesting challenge is to listen to ‘Louise’ without thinking ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’. Too busy a sound for some folk purists one suspects, and maybe not rufty tufty enough for Blues fans, but find room for it– the second listen confirms it as an underground, quirky corker that deserves turntable time. Richard Thomas Issue 54” - Richard Thomas

Blues Matters Magazine

Andy Smythe kicks off with his delicate paen to the joys of gardening, 'Sap and Earth' - a masterful piece of almost semi-classical tone, it amply displays Smythe's dexterity on the piano. Smythe's strongpoint is his way with words. Evidently well read, he translates this into songs of considerable humanity. unburdened by device or metaphor, the lyrical clarity of such songs as 'Ancient Ways' - concerning the plight of Autralia's Aboriginal people and 'Last Chief' about Native American Chief Joseph, is matched by his sense of melody. Barry Targett supplies jazzy electric fiddle to 'Changing Seasons' and blistering electric guitar to 'Ancient Ways'. Targett is a real find. Gerry Ranson, R2 Magazine April/May 2010 Live Review of our 12 Bar launch gig.” - Gerry Ranson

— R2 Magazine

The trio of Andy, Les Elvin and Barry Targett are making quite a name for themselves. This is very much poetry set to music. Andy is a very inventive writer. 'Last chief' - how promises to the native americans were betrayed.'Two Lovers' - letting lovers win and their sweet sould uniting. 'Thunder Dreamer' abou how Crazy Horse fought for freedom all his life.'Song fo Sean' about John Lennon from his sons point of view. There's superb violin from Barry on 'Changing Seasons'and 'Carrie' and delicate piano and birdsong on 'Sap and Earth'. Guest Alan Richardson plays wonderful harmonica on 'Kids'. There's various genres here from just voice and piano through to rock'n roll and string arrangements. The songs are about life and how it feels in the world trying to get free. Interesting listening. 'Nation of the Free Review', Kathy Drage, Kent Folk, April 2010.” - Kathy Drage

— Kent Folk

Nation of the Free – Andy Smythe Band.... .. .. I have always been a fan of Andy Smythe’s music, and since his progression into the Andy Smythe Band I have been totally blown away!.... .. .. Nation of the Free is an album that would suit any audience as it has tracks to suit all tastes and moods. A truly gifted singer songwriter – Andy has written all of the lyrics on the album and should be very pleased with himself! The album touches on political and topical issues that affect us all including climate change and also touches on the Native American people who have been trying to keep their heritage and existence as in the old ways as in Ancient Ways and Last Chief. The title track is right at the beginning and blows away any cobwebs that might be present as you listen to the album for the first time. Folk Rock at its best! The album carries powerful and emotive lyrics that make you stop, listen and think. Andy changes tempo and mood when he includes Kids and Two Lovers and Song for Sean which is based on his family life and shows the fact that he is a Beatles fan – Sean being John Lennon’s son. 14 tracks on the album to savour..... .. .. The band members are Barry Target on fiddle and guitars and Les Elvin on bass with Mel Wright on drums..... .. .. I noticed that R2 (Rock N Reel) Magazine in their January/February 2010 issue reviewing Nation of the Free praised that ‘everything about the music is big……..’.... .. .. Mike Scott of The Waterboys has commented on the Andy Smythe band, ‘voice, band, fiddle songs’ - a wonderful warm sound. How cool is that?!.... .. .. I really liked this album on first hearing, it gets better and better, and it continues to be on my player. Try Andy’s music, I dare you not to become addicted! Jean Camp” - Jean Camp


After three solo albums, Andy has been joined bu Barry targett and Les Elvin for his first band record and has since recruited Mel Wright on drums. In fact the particular percussion sound is an important element of his arrangements, particularly on 'last Chief', 'Obama's song' and 'Louise'. Targett mulitracks strings for a huge sound and with Smythe on piano, guitar, organ and synths everything about the music is big, although there are moments of contrast such as the solo piano of 'sap and earth'.” - Dai Jeffries

— R2 (Rock 'n Reel) Magazine

'An excellent new release'.” - Nic Dow

— Lancashire Blue Notes

Thanks for the CD some great tracks. I will be playing them.” - Lee Williams

— CMR Nashville Radio