New Release Showcases Detroit's Rock and Soul Heritage
In the tradition of Detroit’s rich musical heritage of rock and soul, Motor City vocalist and songwriter Pat Smillie’s new release, Lonesome for a Long Time, showcases a powerhouse vocal performance supported by veteran musicians steeped in Detroit rhythm and blues.
Lonesome for a Long Time marks Smillie’s first recording in more than 10 years. Although his 2019 nomination for a Detroit Music Award in the category of “Outstanding Blues Vocalist” may lead some to categorize him as a blues singer, Smillie’s style is that of a soulful rock artist who has been deeply influenced by classic 60's r&b.
Originally from Detroit, Smillie cut his teeth as a live performer in Chicago on the hard-scrabble soul and blues music scene of the city's south and west sides. He returned to Detroit in 2015. Over the years, he’s performed as an opening act on shows and festivals for music legends including Robert Cray, Tyrone Davis, Koko Taylor, Mitch Ryder, and Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. “Growing up in Detroit, a lot of my early influences were rock and roll,” says Smillie. “I’ve also always been inspired by all the great soul acts and Motown artists.”
The six-song E.P. has a classic feel, with Smillie’s whiskey-soaked tenor and mature songwriting taking center stage. Among the highlights of the record is the Motown-inspired groove of “Ain’t No Doubt About That”, a song whose distinctive shuffle could NOT have been written or recorded anywhere but the Motor City. The album's title track is reminiscent of Otis Clay's classic 70's Hi Records period, while the country-soul ballad "I Got an Angel (Waiting Up in Heaven for Me)" depicts the loss of a young child with heartbreaking imagery. The album closes with "Ray Charles Records" an elegy to lost love that is so full of regret it could've made Brother Ray break down and cry.
Lonesome for a Long Time was co-produced by Josh Ford (a.k.a. "Motor City Josh") and Pat Smillie. The album features work and special appearances by some of Detroit’s top musicians. Keith Kaminski of the Motor City Horns leaves an imprint on the record with his excellent horn arrangements. There is also a special guest performance by renowned Detroit guitarist Jim McCarty, for whom Smillie wrote the high energy, Chuck Berry-inspired rocker, “Boulder City Breakdown”.
A fixture on Detroit's live-music scene with his own band, Smillie also performs regularly with McCarty. In addition, he covers vocal duties (twice a month) for legendary Motown guitarist, Dennis Coffey, at Northern Lights Lounge.