For the last fifty years, Chris Smither has been steadily writing and performing his blend of blues and folk. His prolific career with multiple peaks would resemble a mountain range. His latest album — his 15th studio release — is called “Call Me Lucky.”
Smither grew up in New Orleans, then moved between Paris, Mexico and the South, before eventually settling in New England. That wide map seems to give his songs a fluidity, but it’s the southern influence that really hues his songs. You may have come across his work peripherally with songs like “Love You Like a Man” being reinterpreted by Bonnie Raitt, The Dixie Chicks and others.
Smither’s style has a traditional quality to it, partially from his rhyme-sequencing, which sticks to a simple couplet form. Following such a strict writing pattern could be rigid for some songwriters, but for Smither it helps maintain an intimacy.
“I love to do internal rhymes. What I’m trying to develop is a conversation with people. When I sit in front of an audience, I want — ideally — every one of them to feel I’m sitting in their lap and saying ‘Listen I got something to tell ya.’ Internal rhymes and couplets just sort of lend themselves to a flow that makes that easy to take.” - Chris Smither
For this opbmusic session, Smither chose three songs from “Call Me Lucky,” stripped to an acoustic form with Morphine’s Billy Conway accompanying on a makeshift drumkit. But Smither’s expansive catalog remains present in his live show.
“It can always get back to where I was when I wrote it, or to a new place that’s equally valid, but maybe a little more grown up. The songs, they go their own way as soon as I put them out there. They’re like my children; they grow up, they go away, some of them go to college and some of them wind up pumping gas. And if I’m really lucky every once in a while one of them sends a check home to dad. But they’re my children, and they come back to me, recognizable but changed. I still love them, I still know how to show that.” - CS
Watch the performances recorded at soundcheck at the Alberta Rose Theater, in the player above. Hear the full interview with Chris Smither in the audio player below.
Audio recording and mixes: Steven Kray
Videographer/Editor: Jarratt Taylor
Interviewer: Robin Bacior
Additional production: Jerad Walker
Executive Producer: David Christensen