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Chris Smither - Time Stands Still

Time Stands Still

Chris Smither

Available from Young/Hunter Management.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

It's rare that an artist contains his own presence and presentation so well that he creates entire vistas and fulsome moods through sheer force of vision, but Chris Smither is one of those individuals, and this quietly astounding release carves the claim in stone. In a trio format, with just three days in the studio, the guy recorded Time Stands Still, a CD lending powerful testament to a history of various legendary documents crafted with what musicians had right then, right there, no excuses, no apologies, just sheer talent. The roster of such acts is well known, and now Smither joins it.

There's a simultaneous rawness and polish here that acts like a magnet on ear and soul, the singer's voice gravelly and deep, a well from which multitudinous insights and acid observations are drawn:

So you think you got religion
You say "Lord, how can this be?"
Everything I had is gone
Don't do theses things to me
Save me just this once
I promise I will bow down to your will"
You waited for answer
Surprise, surprise, you waitin' still

(from Surprise, Surprise)

The delivery is both world weary and street wise amid some very deceptively florid guitar interplay between Smither and second guitarist David Goodrich (also the producer) just above Zak Trojano's gentle timekeeping. Pay special attention to Goodrich's brilliant slide as well. It occurs only once (on the lead cut, Don't Call me Stranger), but, sweet Jesus, what a sound! Ry Cooder couldn't have nailed it better.

Smither is accustomed to solo performances, a gent holding forth in a perfect cross of blues, folk, and Americana, but his accompanists are so sympathetic that they become shadow and breath, the lub and dub of his heart, echoes of his thoughts. To these ears, this backroads troubadour is a Kris Kristofferson but with much better voice and a sound more ambiantly evocative of moodier than hell byways and open skies. The 11th in a series of studio releases, Time is extraordinarily savory of antiquated reminiscences and modernist sentiments with firm roots in the hoary lessons of many generations of thinkers, roisterers, penitents, and artists. He didn't need to dip into Dylan, Hutchison, and Knopfler for verification, but he did and thereby recruited them to his unique vision, not the other way around.

Track List:

  • Don't Call Me Stranger
  • Time Stands Still
  • Surprise, Surprise
  • I Don't Know
  • Call Yourself
  • Old Man Down
  • I Told You So
  • It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
  • Miner's Blues
  • Someone Like Me
  • Madame Geneva's
All songs written by Chris Smither except It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (Bob Dylan),
Miner's Blues (Frank Hutchison), and Madame Geneva's (Mark Knopfler).

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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