Ode to J. Smith

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Ode to J. Smith
Studio album by Travis
Released 29 September 2008
Recorded February–March 2008
Studio RAK Studios
Genre Alternative rock, indie rock
Length 36:56
Label Red Telephone Box, Fontana
Producer Emery Dobyns
Travis chronology
The Boy with No Name
Ode to J. Smith
Where You Stand
Singles from Ode to J. Smith
  1. "J. Smith"
    Released: 30 June 2008
  2. "Something Anything"
    Released: 15 September 2008
  3. "Song to Self"
    Released: 5 January 2009
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 66/100[1]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars link
BBC (Favourable) link
Daily Record 4/5 stars link
Evening Standard 4/5 stars link
Evening Telegraph (8/10) link
God Is in the TV Zine 5/5 stars link
Metro 5/5 stars link
MusicOMH 4/5 stars link
News Of The World 4/5 stars link
Pitchfork Media (5.0/10) link
Planet Sound (8/10) link

Ode to J. Smith is the sixth studio album by Scottish rock band Travis, released on 29 September 2008 in the United Kingdom and received generally positive reviews. The album was released in the United States on 4 November 2008.[2] The first single from the album, "Something Anything", was released on 15 September, and despite being generally well received by Travis fans gained very little airplay.[3]

Ode to J. Smith entered the UK Album Chart at #20, and spent 3 weeks on the chart. The album peaked at #122 on the Billboard 200.


The band announced in December 2007 that a short tour was planned for February 2008, with only five dates in different small club venues around the UK. Shortly after, they would start recording their sixth studio album. Singer/songwriter Fran Healy said he would like to record the entire album in two weeks,[4] having been inspired by the speed and simplicity of their recent recording session with Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick while participating in a BBC programme celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. The band road-tested the new material in their February 2008 club shows. It was announced in February 2008 that Travis have left Independiente Records as they had "come to the end of our deal and decided to go as it was time to start afresh", according to Healy. The band recorded the album at RAK Studios in London for two weeks between February and March. Afterward, Healy went to mix the record in New York between March and April. The cover image of the eye is an exact copy of a design by Omnific created for an early 1980s Penguin Books edition of the Roald Dahl short story collection, Someone Like You. Fran Healy announced on the band's official website, that 1000 copies of the song "J. Smith" had been pressed and would be available to buy as an EP called J. Smith EP, along with two other new songs, from 30 June 2008. However, Healy confirmed that the EP would not be the 'official' first single from the album, which was "Something Anything". The EP was released on 'Red Telephone Box Records', which was the label Travis set up to release their first EP "All I Want to Do Is Rock" 12 years previously.[5]

Release and reception[edit]

Following a short UK tour, where the band tested some new material, Travis recorded their sixth album in two weeks in February/March 2008, having been inspired by the speed and simplicity of their recent recording session with Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick while participating in a BBC programme celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.[6]

In early June 2008, a vinyl EP of the song "J. Smith" was announced online as the first release from Ode to J. Smith for 30 June.[7] It was an EP limited to 1000 copies and not an 'official' single, instead more of a taster of the album for fans.

Fran Healy said, "The album is called Ode to J. Smith partly giving a heads up to the key song and partly because all the songs are written about nameless characters or to nameless characters." He has also described the album as a novel with 12 chapters, with each chapter being a song. In live shows promoting the album in spring 2009, Healy said the song Friends was written from the perspective of the girlfriend of the book's protagonist (J.Smith), about friends who are only there to ask for favours. The album would be released through their own record label Red Telephone Box, with the lead single "Something Anything" being released on 15 September.[3] Two weeks later on 29 September, Ode to J. Smith was released.[2] The band also headlined a 12-gig UK tour to coincide with the releases between 22 September and 8 October. The second single released from Ode To J. Smith was "Song To Self", on 5 January 2009.

Ode to J. Smith received positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 66 based on 17 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[1] Early reviews were very positive, with some calling it Travis' best record ever.[8][9] In the December 2008 issue of Q Magazine, Ode To J Smith appeared at number 28 on a list of the Readers' Best Albums Of 2008.


All songs written and composed by Fran Healy, except where noted. 

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Chinese Blues"     3:46
2. "J. Smith"     3:04
3. "Something Anything"   Healy, Dougie Payne 2:22
4. "Long Way Down"   Healy, Payne 2:39
5. "Broken Mirror"     3:12
6. "Last Words"   Healy, Payne 4:11
7. "Quite Free"   Healy, Payne, Andy Dunlop 4:00
8. "Get Up"   Healy, Payne 3:13
9. "Friends"     3:24
10. "Song to Self"     3:46
11. "Before You Were Young"     3:19
Japanese Bonus Track
No. Title Length
12. "Sarah"   4:26


Chart (2008) Peak
UK Album Chart 20
Austrian Album Charts 36
Swiss Album Charts 16
French Albums Top 150 87
German Album Charts 49
Italian Album Charts 95
Norwegian Album Charts 27
Mexican Albums Chart 25
U.S Billboard 200 122



  1. ^ a b "Ode to J. Smith Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2013-03-07. 
  2. ^ a b "Ode To J. Smith - the new album". travisonline.com. 2008-08-05. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  3. ^ a b "New Single: Something Anything". travisonline.com. 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  4. ^ Fran Healy Album 6 - Blog 1
  5. ^ Fran Healy announces new EP
  6. ^ "Fran Healy Album 6 - Blog 1". Travisonline.com. 4 January 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-12. 
  7. ^ "J Smith vinyl". Travisonline.com. Retrieved 2010-01-12. 
  8. ^ "Travis: Ode To J Smith". Metro.co.uk. 28 September 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-21. 
  9. ^ "Music — Review of Travis — Ode To J Smith". BBC. Retrieved 2010-01-12.