Thursday, December 11, 2014

Chris Smither Is Still On The Levee

Still on the Levee” (Homunculus Music/Mighty Albert) is a double disc retrospective of Chris Smither’s 50 odd year career in new June 2013 recordings. Smither is a singer-songwriter whose performances and songs have a Dylanesque flavor as well as deep blues roots in his direct finger style guitar playing. As Charlie Hunter, his former co-manager observes, Smither’s guitar style is 1/3 Mississippi John Hurt, 1/3 Lightnin’ Hopkins and 1/3 himself.

The two CDs cover a pretty wide range of songs by Smither and display his position as a significant composer and lyricist. There is the wistfulness of "Song of Susan" to a fine original blues "Another Way To Find You" that evokes Robert Johnson riffs with a heartfelt vocal and strong harmonica backing. Allen Toussaint adds his piano to "Train Home" that lends a slightly different flavor behind Smither's vocal as he waits for a train to take him home.

Smither's gravelly vocals have a restrained quality that adds to the appeal. "Lola" is a bluesy folk number with exceptional lyrics and restrained rollicking piano backing. "Shillin' For the Blues,” which features members of Morphine, has interesting backing including softly recorded baritone sax by Dana Colley. Loudon Wainwright III joins Smithers on the lively "What They Say."

With his world weary vocals and the deft, but restrained, accompaniment, it is no wonder that Smither's "Can't Shake These Blues" Produced by David Goodrich (who plays on much of this), “Still on the Levee” is a recording that showcases this remarkable singer-songwriter as he considers some of his favorite and most memorable songs.

I received this from a publicist. Here he performs in concert "Love You Like a Man."

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