Graham McGregor-Smith Road to Anywhere – Review

Graham McGregor-Smith Road to Anywhere Review (2)

By Ellie Victor

Graham McGregor-Smith’s debut album, Road to Anywhere, is the eclectic sound of a 61-year-old who has nurtured a lifelong love for music, and who has, after a long and winding road, finally got round to releasing this distinctive debut.

From rural Worcestershire, McGregor-Smith’s formative years contained a diverse musical landscape, ranging from jazz and pop to opera. This eclectic background, later enriched by the sounds of New Order and The Haçienda during his university time in Manchester, has clearly influenced his artistic journey from chartered accountant to late-blooming singer-songwriter.

McGregor-Smith’s mix of influences are fully on show as he merges classic pop with swinging jazz, crafting songs that resonate with the influences of Gilbert O’Sullivan, Jimmy Webb, and João Gilberto. This eclecticism is both a blessing and a curse, adding obvious variety to the album but, at times, creating an incohesive identity. Successive tracks leap genres – occasionally it has the feel of a compilation album or a various artists package. Nonetheless, there’s an undeniable joy and life-affirming energy imbued in the project, reflecting the songwriter’s fulfillment of a life-long ambition.

Graham McGregor-Smith Road to Anywhere Review (1)

Graham McGregor-Smith, 2024


There are nods to Tin Pan Alley and the Great American Songbook, alongside hints of rock, blues, gospel, and swing. The music does indeed swing, thanks to neat solos and the backing ensemble’s skilful play, making it more of a singer-songwriter album with memorable songs rather than a pure jazz record.

‘(Would You Really) Trade Me In?’ and ‘The First Time (I Saw New York)’ showcase some neat lyricism and compact arrangements, particularly in the effective use of horns. McGregor-Smith gracefully tackles bossa nova in ‘Close to Good Enough’, while ‘I Could Have Cried Over You’ manages to be be poignant, not cloying. The authenticity of the blues is captured in the title track, further highlighting the album’s eclectic nature.

McGregor-Smith’s story of transformation is unusual. After all, not many chartered accountants become professional musicians – and not any I can think of after 61 years! It must be hard to distill a lifetime of love and knowledge into 40 minutes – but, with plans for a second album in the works, focus and refinement is what should come next.

‘Road to Anywhere’ by Graham McGregor-Smith is out now


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