More From The Levee
Chris Smither recorded his debut album “I’m A Stranger Too!” in 1970. Included was the song “Love You Like a Man”. Two years later the song was recorded by Bonnie Raitt and helped establish Smither as one of our foremost songwriters. Smither’s last album was 2018’s “Call Me Lucky”.
“More From The Levee” is Smither’s eighteenth album overall. The ten tracks included were recorded at the Music Shed in New Orleans in 2013. Twenty-four additional tracks recorded at the same two-week session were released in 2014 as the 50 year retrospective “Still On The Levee”. This was not a compilation as Smither selected his best songs and re-recorded them. Smither’s soulful songwriting includes his philosophically complex lyrics and commentary on the human condition. Smither, acoustic guitar and vocals, was joined by his band “The Motivators” including producer David Goodrich, guitar; Anita Suhanin, vocals; Jimmy Fitting, harmonica, and Billy Conway, drums.
Longtime friend and producer Goodrich recalls “Last summer, I received a call from Chris’ manager about unreleased tracks from the 2013 New Orleans sessions that yielded his retrospective…even with that double album clocking in at 24 songs, we still had extraordinary performances left in the vault. Returning to these tracks was like finding a roll of film from a legendary vacation, you know you has a great time but you’re not sure what you’re going to find captured there.”
Smither’s vocals are accompanied by guitar techniques learned from blues masters Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins. These songs are “new takes” mostly performed by Smither in a duo setting with drummer Conway. Smither opens with “Lonely Time” from his 1970 debut. The fan favorite “Caveman” first appeared on 1997’s “Small Revelations”. “Hey, Hey, Hey” is from 1999’s “Drive You Home Again”. From 2003’s “Train Home” is both “Confirmation”; and “Let It Go” featuring New Orleans piano legend Allen Toussaint. “Father’s Day” was originally included on 2006’s “Leave The Light On”. “What I Do” is a new, never previously recorded, song about time spent in New Orleans.
Smither’s band “The Motivators” play on “I AM The Ride” reprised from his 1995 album “Up On The Lowdown”; and on “Old Man Down” originally on 2009’s “Time Stands Still”. A new version of the fan favorite “Drive You Home Again” features Dana Colley on baritone sax.
“More From The Levee” is a welcome addition to any Smither collection and even better when combined with the 2014 retrospective. These musical performances showcase Smither’s intimate craft.