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Train Home

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Album Review

Chris Smither settles into his distinctive combination of folk and blues with this excellent release. Although not pushing established boundaries, his rich, velvety voice and mature spoken-sung vocals convey a sense of truth and add depth to these introspective compositions. A bit of early Tom Waits creeps into his leathery vocals on a jaunty cover of Dave Carter's "Crocodile Man," but Smither is best defined by the fingerpicked folk-blues. Bonnie Raitt, a fan from way back, contributes harmony vocals and slide guitar to his gentle eight-minute version of Dylan's "Desolation Row." Some tunes are percussion-free, providing the singer's honey growl of a voice and clean acoustic guitar the most space to maneuver. Smither is loosest lamenting about his stolen car and its psychological effects on "Let It Go," a track that, with his muttering and grouching, seems to have been recorded in an impromptu moment. A gentle cover of Mississippi John Hurt's "Candy Man" — the album's only unaccompanied performance — shows Smither's rather evident roots, and his closing waltz-styled version of Buffalo Springfield's "Kind Woman" reveals less obvious ones. Accompaniment by right-hand man David "Goody" Goodrich, who plays keyboards, guitars, and even something called a pinewood diddley bo, subtly enhances nearly every track on this quiet gem.

Biography

Born: November 11, 1944 in Miami, FL

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Like John Hammond and a handful of other musicians whose careers began in the 1960s blues revival, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Chris Smither can take pride in the fact that he's been there since the beginning. Except for a few years when he was away from performing in the '70s, Smither has been a mainstay of the festival, coffeehouse, and club circuits around the U.S., Canada, and Europe since his performing career began in earnest in the coffeehouses in Boston in the spring of 1966. Smither...
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Train Home, Chris Smither
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