Leave the Light On

As a songwriter and a performer, Chris Smither just keeps getting better and better. His latest album--his twelfth overall--easily ranks among the best in his thirty-six year recording career.

The album is comprised of seven originals and four covers played engagingly in his usual acoustic style. Arrangements range from full band to simple acoustic, but most of the songs are built as usual around Smither's trademark acoustic playing and toe-tapping.

As has been the case with recent albums, Smither mediatates on life and aging in some of his songs including the song which opens up the album, titled, appropriately enough, "Open Up." He encourages the listener to open up one's heart amid a simple, upbeat rhythm and some shimmering guitars. On the album's title song, Smither recalls his youth singing about those memories, "It's just like water, it runs right through my fingers/ But the flavor of it lingers like a rich, red wine."

Smither quite memorably tackles some contemporary subjects on this album. On "Origin of Species," he gives his own whimsical take on the evolution vs. creation debate. And on "Diplomacy," Smither pumps up a roots-rock number which discusses foreign policy with biting wit.

Included on the album are covers of Peter Case and a Bob Dylan song (the exquisite "Visions of Johanna"), as well as two traditional chesnuts.

Leave the Light On doesn't break any radically new ground, and that's okay. Smither's talents as a songwriter and guitarist are strong enough to not require fresh adornment.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director