Get this crazy baby off my head!


Chris Smither

Chris Smither - Small Revelations - 1997 - HighTone

CMJ (3/29/99, p.31) - "Chris Smither is a master at combining folk and Southwestern blues into brooding, introspective roots music. His pensive yet edgy voice, stellar finger-pick guitar plaing, and foot-tapped rhythms nearly make him a one-man acoustic band..." : JazzTimes (8/97, p.76) - "...accomplished student of American roots music, singer-songwriter Chris Smither crosses over into folky territory on SMALL REVELATIONS....this collection of upbeat originals recalls other understated troubadours....a nice change of pace."

Chris Smither's reflective, lyrical songwriting, richly textured singing voice and bluesy acoustic-guitar playing serve him well on SMALL REVELATIONS. Smither is especially adept at country-inspired, toe-tapping tunes spiked with skeptical wit and wisdom, like "Winsome Smile" ("Listen to me now, you suffer from a sad misapprehension/That if she could read your mind she'd see just how it oughta be/But she's read it all by now/And your style don't get a grip on her attention.") Equally impressive are Smither's all-out blues tracks (including an outstanding cover of Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom"), and his brooding, poignant near-ballads, especially the leisurely, contemplative title track. Smither once again proves himself worthy of his fine reputation, especially among fellow musicians, as a plain-speaking, original and supremely talented guitarist, singer and songwriter. © 1996 - 2011 CD Universe http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/1005829/a/Small+Revelations.htm

If you’ve ever caught one of Chris Smither’s live performances (he’s played more than 150 dates a year for the past few years), you know it’s hard not come away knocked out by the amount of music that comes out of one man. His guitar playing is remarkably fluid. His songs are gleaming bits of gold and performed in a wide variety of styles. When he chooses to cover tunes from other songwriters, he makes them his own, usually in a surprising way. Small Revelations, his second effort for HighTone, displays all of these qualities with a special understated grace. Although Smither performs live as a solo act, here he is joined by a few of Austin’s top session players, including Riley Osborne on keyboards and Mickey Raphael on harmonica; they expand his sound but don’t overwhelm it. The title track is the album’s centerpiece. Brooding and pensive, it stands out for its mystical feel; while guitars echo and swirl about him, Smither’s deep dark blues come to light. Small Revelations is far from a gloomy record though; “Caveman” and “Hold On” show off both his lighthearted side and his dexterous way with a guitar. As he has in the past, he demonstrates his mastery of country blues with a jaunty, swamp-inflected take of Jesse Winchester’s “Thanks To You”, and even if you’ve heard Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Broom” a hundred times, you may not recognize the howling version Smither presents here. The set ends with on a distinctive note with the rollicking “Hook, Line And Sinker”. While Osborne lays down some tasty barrelhouse piano, Smither drolly compares love to fishing, and we realize he’s not far from the truth. Ah, another small revelation. By & © Jim Caligiuri from Waxed - Record Review from Issue #7 Jan-Feb 1997 © 2009-2011 – Americana and Roots Music – No Depression http://archives.nodepression.com/1997/01/chris-smither-small-revelations/

Recorded at The Hit Shack, Austin, Texas in September 1996, "Small Revelations" is a great blues/folk album by the New Orleans born Chris Smither. Chris has a distinctive, almost baritone voice, and sings in a very laid back manner. His finger-picking guitar style is terrific, and influenced by his playing his mother's ukulele as a kid. He is also a great songwriter. Chris has been called "an unheralded master of modern acoustic blues", and it's worth listening to his superb "Live as I'll Ever Be" album. There are many more very underrated musicians like Chris Smither. Check out some of James McMurtry's great albums on this blog. [All tracks @ 320 Kbps: File size = 81.7 Mb]


1 Thanks to You - Jesse Winchester 2:43
2 Slow Surprise - Chris Smither 2:46
3 Hold On - Chris Smither/Sarah McLachlan 4:02
4 Caveman - Chris Smither 4:36
5 Help Me Now - Chris Smither 3:23
6 Small Revelations - Chris Smither 4:00
7 Winsome Smile - Chris Smither 3:44
8 Dust My Broom - Robert Johnson 3:09
9 Sportin' Life - Walter B. McGhee/Chris Smither 3:07
10 Hook, Line and Sinker - Ronnie Bonner/Bill Haley/Edward Khoury/Chris Smither 4:00


Chris Smither - Guitar, Vocals
Stephen Bruton - Guitar, Banjo
Chris Maresh - Bass Guitar
Riley Osbourn - Piano, Keyboards
Brannen Temple - Drums, Percussion
Mickey Raphael, Hook Herrera - Harmonica
Mark Rubin - Tuba


Like John Hammond and a handful of other musicians whose careers began in the 1960s blues revival, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Chris Smither can take pride in the fact that he's been there since the beginning. Except for a few years when he was away from performing in the '70s, Smither has been a mainstay of the festival, coffeehouse, and club circuits around the U.S., Canada, and Europe since his performing career began in earnest in the coffeehouses in Boston in the spring of 1966. Smither is best known for his great songs, items like "Love You Like a Man" and "I Feel the Same," both of which have been recorded by guitarist Bonnie Raitt. Raitt and Smither got started at about the same time in Boston, though Smither was born and raised in New Orleans, the son of university professors. Smither's earliest awareness of blues and folk music came from his parents' record collection. In a 1992 interview, he recalled it included albums by Josh White, Susan Reed, and Burl Ives. After a short stint taking piano lessons, Smither switched to ukulele after discovering his mother's old instrument in a closet. The young Smither was passionately attached to the ukulele, and now, years later, it helps to explain the emotion and expertise behind his unique fingerpicking guitar style. Smither discovered blues music when he was 17 and heard a Lightnin' Hopkins album, Blues in the Bottle. The album was a major revelation to him and he subsequently spent weeks trying to figure out the intricate guitar parts. Smither moved to Boston after realizing he was a big fish in a small pond in the New Orleans folk/coffeehouse circuit of the mid-'60s. Also, acoustic blues pioneer Ric Von Schmidt had recommended Smither check out the Boston folk-blues scene. Smither recorded his first couple of albums for the Poppy label in 1970 and 1971, I'm a Stranger Too and Don't It Drag On. In 1972, Smither recorded a third album, Honeysuckle Dog, for United Artists, which finally saw release on the Heavenly label in the mid-2000s. On the sessions for that album, he was joined in the studio by his old friends Bonnie Raitt and Mac Rebennack, aka Dr. John. After a long bout with alcoholism, Smither launched his recording career again in the late '80s, although he hadn't stopped performing. His return to a proper recording career, due to a deal with Flying Fish Records, didn't happen again until 1991, when the label released Another Way to Find You, a folk-blues album. Smither recorded It Ain't Easy for the Adelphi label in 1984; the album was re-released on CD ten years later. Since then, he's more than proved his mettle as an enormously gifted songwriter, releasing albums mostly of his own compositions for the Flying Fish, Hightone, and Signature Sounds labels. Smither's albums during the '90s and into the 21st century include Happier Blue (1993, Flying Fish), Up on the Lowdown (1995, Hightone), Drive You Home Again (1999, Hightone), Live as I'll Ever Be (2000, Hightone), Train Home (2003, Hightone), Leave the Light On (2006, Signature Sounds), and Time Stands Still (2009, Signature Sounds), a career highlight. Any of Smither's releases are worthy of careful examination by guitarists and students of all schools of blues and folk music. Smither is still, to some extent, an unheralded master of modern acoustic blues. Fortunately, his recordings and festival bookings during the '90s and into the 21st century have elevated his profile to a higher level than he's ever enjoyed previously.


A.O.O.F.C said...


p/w aoofc

Some Awe said...

Superb to have this Sir Fingal, thank you. Smither really is one of the greats, and some of his material can be hard to find in my experience. I think his first two albums are right up there with John Martyn [my hero] and Steve Tilston. His voice wasn't a baritone then [though that's a brilliant facet now] but the songwriting as a reflection of that folkscene was exceptional. What a guitar player!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, Some Awe. Not easy to get his albums. He's a brilliant acoustic player. I have a few of his albums. John Martyn was magical. I haven't listened to Steve Tilston in a while. Thanks for the reminder!..TTU soon...P