Not every great musician picked up an instrument when they were 4 years old and mastered it by 7.  Even I did not really get into music until my high school days.  No young prodigy here.  Influences can come in many different forms and sometimes are better left until the individual can truly appreciate what is being performed.  An artist that falls into this mold is a current find of mine, The Joel Smith Project.

Joel did not pick up a guitar until he was 18 years old when he was influenced to do so by his newfound love of bands like Metallica, Soundgarden, Incubus, and Rage Against The Machine.  He has the right mindset too, saying that he just wants to make the music that he hears in his head, and when people hear it he wants them to say good work Joel, your music doesn’t suck.  You can’t hate an attitude like that. The Joel Smith Project  is really just Joel on guitar, bass, and vocals with the help of producer friend Rich Mouser.  It is very unlike what you would expect a single singer/songwriter to sound like.  This is pure unadulterated hard rock music, it just happens to be performed by one man.

The most recent release by The Joel Smith Project is a 5 song EP entitled Adam’s Awakening that is a nice introductory collection of interesting rock songs.  The opener ‘What He’s Leaving Behind’ is the mellowest song on the record with an acoustic intro and bongo beat.  Maybe not the best open for a hard rock record but it does give the listener the chance to focus on some pretty good lyrics.  The next song ‘Temporary’ begins with a slow and deliberate guitar tone that reminded me of some Megadeath.  It is slightly haunting as Joel leads you into another story before breaking down to a straight ahead rock song showing off some of his soloing guitar skills as well.  The later songs ‘Vision’ and ‘Suicide Girl’ bring the rock with power guitar and head-bangable beats that get you into the right frame of mind to rock.

Bottom Line: The Joel Smith Project is not breaking new ground here, but when you want to hear some solid hard rock music with great lyrical content, give it a listen.  I wouldn’t mind seeing Joel team up with some other quality musicians to form a band and see what comes of the collaboration.

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