Brooklyn singer/songwriter These Bare Hands (a.k.a. Marc Smith) releases ‘Battle Of The Sexes,’ a seductive new single following his 2019 debut album Nothing Is Ever Lost. The songwriter’s grizzled tone and plaintive lyrics join folk sensibility with rock. Self-produced and recorded with equipment he builds by hand, the songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/audio engineer makes poignant work of his Do-It-Yourself pseudonym.
Nothing Is Ever Lost is an autobiographic reverie linking up to his 20 year run in New York, its electric overtones invoking a harder and more determined artist who still looks over his shoulder. "No one gets letters like the ones you sent anymore to my door from Shady Grove / I am still a kid learning the latest tricks to show off when you get home,” he sings in ‘Shady Grove,’ a lilting glance in the rearview mirror at the artist’s own provenance. "I practice small kindness cause that's the way you taught me long ago,” he acknowledges, displaying at once the joy and melancholy of generational change.
"I loved recording ‘Shady Grove’ because I had built my first guitar pedals and tube amp,” Marc comments. "Running my vintage Gibson ES125 through them gave this slow burn sound which I like to contrast with clean acoustic guitars in my songs. They walk a line that's strong yet sympathetic - soft core rock or hard core folk. It's very much the sound of ‘New York City’ too. By then I'd created a classic API mic pre amp, Neve EQ and 1176 compressor - a signal chain from heaven."
'New York City' is a soulful scream to the city that never sleeps and for countless creatives, in particular, a metaphor for the messy artistic process. "I’m sorry I didn’t mean that” follows the angry “You might bring me to my knees but I’ll drag you down I guarantee kicking and screaming” and “Forgive me I still love you if you’re willing,” ultimately resolving with a hopeful plea familiar to all those seeking affirmation: “Do you still need me?”
"The first song I ever wrote was also the moment I began learning to record," Marc continues. "Recording is an infinite universe and then came building my own gear, which personalized the songs even more. Apart from their sound, analog equipment has a lot of physical beauty and interesting science that deepen my relationship with music all the time. So, the process has come full circle and it's very rewarding."
Other standout tracks are ‘Half Way to Grace,’ a mid-tempo rocker reflecting the comfort and contentment of love’s bonds, written to celebrate the steps in that journey of commitment. ‘Anywhere With You’ is a duet with his wife Lauren in the great tradition of George & Tammy. The record finishes with a hymnal-like ‘Go On,’ affirmation of continuity following a painful loss: “it's perfect but he's not here to see / but rejoice in a sweet melody / he wants everyone up on their feet.”
These Bare Hands and Nothing Is Ever Lost are old growth - knowing, patient, and insightful work from an artist whose honest craft extends from root to branch.