Garrett Wayne Smith, better known as Rett Smith, is a former internationally ranked competitive skier, turned singer, songwriter, and guitarist from Texas. He released his debut album Tularosa in 2016, a further one Oscuro and a heavier 2017 side project SAENTS. He returns with “Giving Up On Quitting” a distinctly Western sound that is inspired by his roots in Texas and New Mexico.
`Better Day` is quite a desolate track to kick off this collection. An acoustic guitar is picked as Rett`s guttural vocal recalls a relationship that seems to be falling apart as the narrator struggles with unhappiness. The despondency is almost palpable in the delivery and the addition of a cello towards the end adds a certain poignancy. There is hope though as the relator implores for his love to come back on a better day. I wasn`t sure what to make of `Corner kisses` it was quite slow and melancholic at times, then intermittingly we had a sort of crash of music and some bellowed lyrics that mentioned the title.
I must admit the vocals were so low, I found it difficult to understand what was being said but it seemed to be about a challenging relationship.
`Hardship Highways` is an autobiographical reflection on a time in the singer`s life when it was spiralling out of control due to an overindulgence in drugs and alcohol. There`s an interesting reverb vocal accompanied by a strummed guitar and drum beat that seems to move this reminiscence along at a pace akin to a moving car, possibly a road trip through a trying period in time of the artist`s life.
The following track `Luck Burns Deep` is a real rock out number with a buzzing guitar riff that leads you into a world of the raconteur`s hard drinking, hard living and hoping their lover will just accept and deal with their antics as their life spins out of control. The hand clapping at the chorus seemed to emphasise the desire for acceptance of this unreasonable behaviour.
`Rattlesnakes` has a moving shuffling feel with a tale of a struggle but determination to retain a love affair shared with some distant almost whispered vocals. There`s a much quieter offering with `Running Red Lights` with a piano and plucked guitar creating the feel of driving late at night contemplating a relationship gone sour and what they should have done to salvage it.
`Santa Fe` has a rawness about it, with just an acoustic guitar and Rett`s vocals relating a dark tale of a vengeful murder from the viewpoint of the executioner. A sort of desert landscape was brought to mind on hearing `Shakin Hands` Again the vocals are so softly voiced that it was hard to really understand the lyrics which seemed to be about recognising past misdemeanours, coming to terms with them and trying to seek absolution.
`Southbound 25` has a pretty lonesome air, the sensation of being stuck somewhere or nowhere on an unending track of highway that seemingly won`t take you out of this isolation. Reverbed vocals and almost distorted guitar grooves add to the overall sense of exasperation. The album closes with `Two Cents` a kind of mid paced piece that seems to be about somebody whose loved one has left, they have seemingly made some life changes and are now seeking an analysis of how they were are their worst.
There`s an imploring chorus of “Tell me, tell me, more and more about me”
Rett`s sound has been described as country fried indie-rock injected with a moody dose of foreboding.
Throughout this release, he has created characters and writes fictitiously but has said that it`s been impossible to avoid some of his own experiences. We encounter issues with depression, abuse of drink and tales of deteriorating and failed relationships, But we do gain some optimism with a thirst for absolution and redemption. At times, the sparse, atmospheric sound adds to the vulnerability of this composition and makes it a worthwhile find.