Single Review: Ben Mark Smith - 'One Year On'

The follow-up to breakthrough single Who’s The Girl?, Ben Mark Smith’s latest track is a rousing jaunt of smirking self-reflection.

Earlier this year, punk-inspired troubadour Ben Mark Smith released Who’s The Girl?, a heartfelt ballad of the chase, the thrill and the fall of a Tinder relationship, that later became a glowing anthem amid the thriving local folk scene, reaching cult-like status and prompting numerous covers online and in some of the many bars sprinkled across Nottingham. Its successor, One Year On, is a barnstorming single returning to the scene that Smith originally chronicled with beguiling delicacy and detail.

Sonically, the latest release is one of the most adventurous singles Smith has released to date, a pop-punk styled arrangement with folk sensibilities, springing to mind the likes of Bowling For Soup, Frank Turner and Mumford & Sons. Opening lyrics ‘One year on, a lot has changed, but was it for the best / Clinging on to days once spent, with your head upon my chest’, project a sense of poignancy amidst the fervent and bouncing instrumentation, a bounding guitar and drum configuration intertwining with charming ease.

Whilst the single continues the chronicles of Smith’s Tinder-led match-up, tracking life after its disintegration, musically the single divulges unreservedly from its predecessor, its up-tempo melody, uplifting chorus, and instrumentation which is dominated by the singer-songwriter thrashing his guitar with enough intensity to give him a high-intensity workout. A scintillating guitar solo brings the single to its climax, rising with passion and vitriol that has never wavered from the troubadour’s discography.

The decadent realism within Smith’s lyricism has always been a soothing quality within his music. On One Year On, he explores the boundaries between wisecrack quips and touching recollections, moments of self-reflection on personal growth in recent times intertwining with sly tongue-in-cheek remarks, acting as proof that honest lyricism can retain a sense of personality, purpose and spirt. This is perhaps most visible within the track’s expansive chorus, merging contemplation, gratitude and carefree sentiments with notable success:

One year on, my songs are playing on the radio,

One year on, I’m playing sold out shows at clubs we used to go,

One year on, these words I wrote about you’ve become a hit,

But I’d drop that all in a second, ‘cause you were really fit.

A track flourishing with humorous vignettes of the events of the subsequent twelve months, One Year On is filled with simple yet uplifting instrumentation and lyrics to bring out a smile from the most stubborn of individuals. One year on and Ben Mark Smith might not have rekindled his Tinder relationship. He has, however, found a foothold in Nottingham’s blooming acoustic scene. Now with a band in tow, where he lands in the following year will be an intriguing prospect indeed.