Leave The Light On – Chris Smither | CD

(Mighty Albert/Shock) 4 stars

Chris Smither, with that deep, muscular voice and agile guitar style, has been a familiar performer on the folk-blues circuit since the early ’80s.

The New Orleans-born Smither actually started performing in the late-‘60s, until alcohol led to a decade-long recording hiatus.

However, a few of his songs were turned into hits by other artists (notably Bonnie Raitt with `Love Me Like A Man’).

Now in his sixties, and singing cheekily about reaching 100, on his latest CD’s delightful title track – one of seven new songs – Smither demonstrates his customary melodic flair and lyrical acuity.

He covers the blues bases, from the traditional, Lightnin’ Hopkins-arranged `Blues In The Bottle’ to his original `Shilling For The Blues’ and harmony-sweetened `Seems So Real’ (with gospel group Ollabelle).

His origins show through on the protest rocker `Diplomacy’ and there’s a distinct folk flavour to many tracks, especially the bluegrassy `Open Up’ and `Origin Of Species’ – a witty take on the Book of Genesis. Standouts include the poignant ballad `Father’s Day’ and memorable interpretations of Bob Dylan’s `Visions of Johanna’ and the traditional `John Hardy’.

- Mike Daly

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