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Chris Smither - Time Stands Still
CD Review by Jud Conway on 9/4/2009   

Chris Smither has spent the past four decades writing songs and crafting albums that, by all rights, should make him a household name. Instead, he continues to reside just below the publicís radar, garnering high praise from well-known contemporaries like Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris, and earning flattering distinctions like "blues/folk master," "songwriterís songwriter," and "musicianís musician." On his eleventh proper studio album, Time Stands Still, due out September 29 on the Signature Sounds/Mighty Albert label, Smither captures the immediacy and intimacy of his must-see live shows while reinforcing his stature as a songwriter and interpreter of the highest order.

Teaming with producer/guitarist David "Goody" Goodrich and drummer Zak Trojano, Smither recorded the eleven tracks for Time Stands Still in a marathon three day period. The sessions yielded stripped-down arrangements of eight originals and three well-chosen covers, including Bob Dylanís "It Takes A lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry," Mark Knopflerís "Madame Genevaís," and early twentieth-century bluesman Frank Hutchisonís "Minerís Blues."

At the heart of Time Stands Still lie Smitherís stylized finger-picked guitar lines and smoky vocal turns. He imbues each of his songs with a timeless quality that make an original track like "I Donít Know," a contemporary look at parenthood, fit right at home beside Hutchisonís "Minerís Blues," a song that dates back to the nineteen twenties.

Essential cuts include the bouncy title track, delivered with a soulful intensity befitting the subject matter of falling in love, and "Donít Call Me Stranger," on which the songís narrator slyly assumes the role of seducer. Smitherís rendition of Dylanís "It Takes A lot to LaughÖ" is a refreshing take on the oft-covered Highway 61 Revisited classic.

While Time Stands Still may not catapult Chris Smither into the mainstream, it should do just that. Time Stands Still emphasizes the best qualities of one of todayís most under-appreciated singer/songwriter/guitarists and stands as a worthy addition to a back catalog of topnotch albums. Listening to Time Stands Still may just encourage listeners to further explore the discography of Chris Smither, and KindWeb highly recommends this worthy endeavor.

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