Grant Maloy Smith (from the album Dust Bowl: American Stories)

Grant Maloy Smith immediately establishes the characters that come out of Dust Bowl: American Stories, his latest release. The setting is the Great Plains of North America, circa 1930, where weather becomes an ‘angry fist’ pounding down men and women who are ‘hard as horseshoe nails’. “Old Black Roller” sweeps into Dust Bowl as the opening track to describe the ‘taller than the sky’ black clouds that descended nearly eighty years ago, logging as many as 263 dust storms in Oklahoma and Texas alone from 1934 to 1938. Stringed instruments provide a background for the story as “Lily of the Valley” watches young love disappear and fade. Dust Bowl: American Stories captures an era in its songs as the album offers love songs (“Pushing Back the Wind”), looks for some “Me Time” in the busy life of a farmer, and turns the cycle of life (“Daddy, If You Have to Go”).

In 1930’s America, the Great Plains had become the bread basket for the world as farmers changed prairie grass into never-ending fields of cotton, wheat, and other cash crops. Years of drought and over-farming met to create a wasteland of middle America. Clouds of dirt rose up in the sky and generations of farmers headed west in staggering numbers. Grant Maloy Smith gives a soundtrack to the land, its people, and their passage through an era in a Dust Bowl: American Stories. As the exodus travels the Mother Road west the refugees introduce themselves as “I Come from America” while Grant Maloy Smith voices boxcar dreams in “Ride That Train” and borrows a native American chant for survival in “Isht a Lhampko (Have Strength)” as he writes American Stories into the tales of Dust Bowl as he balances the absence (“Never Seen the Rain”) and abundance (“And the Rain Comes Down”) in the ways and wishes of water.

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