Listening to Smoke On This… gives me the impression of an album that while being unique is also influenced at times by Pantera's Cowboys From Hell and the sound signature Slash used for his solo album and further collaborations with Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators. That isn't to say plagiarism of any sort has occurred, but if you appreciate the aforementioned artists, you will thoroughly enjoy this album.
Sonically, the album is nicely mixed and mastered, despite pushing distorted elements to their limit. The one problem I have come across is on Johnny Kelly's drum track whereby the crunching of the cymbals is jarring on the senses. I would have preferred a slightly more open sound, thereby allowing the cymbals space in the soundstage to breathe and shimmer. It would be interesting to see if this same issue is prevalent on the vinyl release, or if due to the restricted vinyl mastering process, this distortion has been limited as the dynamic range most likely wouldn’t be as compressed.
Speaking of vinyl, that cover art is awesome and would look fantastic. I adore black and white photography and while it won't work with all album covers, it works perfectly in this instance as it captures the attitude of both the artist and recording.
Lone Rider gets the album off to an energetic start. The distracting element, however, is the aforementioned crunching cymbals. Otherwise, it’s an incredible song to commence the album with.
Crossing Lines has a great rhythm, but again the shrill sound of the cymbals are a little too forward in the mix and I feel it takes away from an otherwise solid tune.
Buried Alive has an incredible guitar twang introduction that builds into a blues-based rock tune that any musician would be proud of. Brown’s vocal presentation, not only on this track but across the entire album, is exceptional and feels perfectly suited to the associated musicality.
Train Song is amazing! Best song on the album without a doubt. Yes, I can hear the influence of Cowboys From Hell, but I love that song too. I don't know about you, but I enjoy music that offers similarities but has been completely restructured to present something new and evolutionary.
Get Yourself Alright has a mellon collie blues-rock sound. It is an impressive mix and offers incredible depth, reminding me of the work Julian Lennon did with his exceptional Photograph Smile album. Get Yourself Alright pushes the genre limits and is anything but another mere rock tune.
Fault Line is a lovely soft rock tune. Every musical element is perfectly positioned and I simply adore the interweaving vocal along with the gorgeous piano outro.
What Comes Around... is a little campy, especially in the chorus. However, if we call it a B-side, it’s a valued addition to the record.
Grace, while suiting the album, is a classic B-side.
So Into You is a solid rock song. Despite that, the overlapping lead and rhythm guitar confuses the senses as I’m unsure of which groove to connect with.
Best Of Me is a beautiful song! From the elegant beginning to the riff-driven chorus, to the mellow verse; every aspect of this song is perfect. While it may not suit everyone, the musical shifts are incredible and at no time does the song feel disjointed.
One Of These Days is a killer final track. It compels me to listen to the album again and hope that Brown will not only have success with this debut solo release but will continue to record new music.
Overall, Smoke On This... is an exceptional album and while a debut solo performance for Brown, this is one example that showcases how decades of experience can have a profound effect on one’s musicality.
I’m so enamoured by this release that I'm going to order a copy on vinyl; specifically, the limited edition clear version that includes the CD. I like it when vinyl records are shipped with a CD. It is simply a value-added proposition for the consumer.