Chris Smither – Hundred Dollar Valentine (Signature Sounds 2012)
Chris Smither is often typified as a folk singer though many of his earliest influences were from blues musicians. I think of him, like Dylan and Springsteen, as a poet with a guitar. And on his 12th studio album, Hundred Dollar Valentine, he gives us 11 original tunes that deal with life, love, and happiness. Feel the Same is a song that he wrote that was first performed by lifelong friend Bonnie Raitt back in 1973. It is about the end of a relationship…“All that nuthin causes all this pain”…and while I like Bonnie’s version, I love his original; the blend of his acoustic guitar and a wailing harp is absolutely beautiful. What Might Have Been is a classic acoustic blues song….”It ain’t what I knew that makes me blue. It’s what I thought I knew” are lyrics that just haunt me…Amen Brother! Feelings by Degree is poetry set to music and the words “We drift up through the darkness to a lighter shade of grey. A little taste of hope that slides away. The ceaseless rolling rhythms that become the day to day” typify the melancholy blues for me. Every Mother’s Son addresses the pent up anger and violence of a “Judas on the run” and evoked images for me of the Columbine High School shootings back in 1999 and angry young men exacting revenge for misperceived wrongs.
All in all, this is a powerful modern day acoustic blues album with music and lyrics that will hit you where it hurts. His music is honest and direct and oh so enjoyable!