Hundred Dollar Valentine
It’s a pity more singers don’t listen to Chris Smither; don’t hear the simplicity, the rawness and the truth; don’t absorb the natural desire to engage the listener almost as a friend. Smither doesn’t rely on a big voice or a vast range, and he’d be embarrassed if any artifice or attempt to impress passed his lips.
He understands that singing is just about one human marrying words and sounds in ways that move another human, and he does that with unstinting heart on this album, his first consisting entirely of original material.
A stand-out is All We Need To Know, a gentle, haunting song containing the line, “That hollow certainty we’ll always be alone”. Not that Smither is some rusted-on existentialist, but there is certainly a deep sadness often peeping through the curtains of the lyrics here, between the blinds of world-weariness and wry humour.
His music remains rooted in the blues, and, as his many Australian tours have demonstrated, he is self-sufficient with his own acoustic guitar accompaniment. But here the songs are shaded and invigorated by Billy Conway’s Spartan drumming and Jimmy Fitting’s lonesome harmonica cries, plus occasional cello, violin, slide guitar and backing vocals. Hear him live at Double Bay’s Blue Beat on March 7 and Balmain’s Cat and Fiddle on March 19.