Friday, July 18, 2014

CD Review: After 50 Years, Chris Smither Is "Still On The Levee"

Iconic singer/songwriter Chris Smither is looking back a 50 years of making music with a new two-CD release entitled "Still On The Levee." It features Smither revisiting 25 of his favorite songs, re-recording them for this timeless new album. Joining him on this latest adventure is Rusty Belle, Allen Toussaint, Louden Wainewright III, Catherine Norr and members of the band Morphine. His voice may be weathered on the acoustic blues opener "Devil Got Your Man," but his words are amazing. The recording feels so loose that you just place yourself in the studio with Smither as he masters the campfire, acoustics of "No More Cane On The Brazos." Smither seems possessed by the spirits of Lightin' Hopkins and Robert Johnson during the backwoods blues of "Love Like A Man" and "Another Way To Find You." His best moments are when the songs get locked into you mind like the storied lyrics of "Train Home" and "Leave The Light On." All that is only from the first disc, while the second disc begins with the stomping blues of "Hold On."

The inclusion the Ever-Expanding Waste Band (EEWB), featuring members of Morphine, gives "Shillin' For The Blues" the prefect backdrop for Smither's gruff vocals. Allen Toussaint's piano on "No Love Today," turns the song into jazzy, New Orleans gem, while Loudon Wainwright III helps out on the folk appeal of "What To Say." The raw, loose blues of "Call Time" gives us a pure feel of how Chris Smither's music attracted many musicians to cover his songs. The EEWB return for the mellow acoustic wonder of "Small Revelations," before the second disc closes with the hard-rocking, Springsteen-like "Winsome Smile" and the duet of Smither and Catherine Norr on the traveling ballad "Leave The Light On."

This new double-CD retrospective also features a full-color, 60-page book that contains a new write-up by his co-manager Charlie Hunter and producer David Goodrich. Also included in the book are the lyrics to every song in this collection. Also, to celebrate Chris Smither's 50 years in the music industry, is a new book titled "Chris Smither Lyrics 1966-2012" and a new tribute album "Link Of Chain," featuring recordings by Bonnie Raitt, Dave Alvin, Patty Larkin, Josh Ritter, Peter Case, Tim O'Brien and others.

To find out more about Chris Smither's "Still On The Levee: A 50 Year Retrospective," please visit

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