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Time Stands Still

24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Four decades of music mastery and songwriting craft come together on Chris Smither's latest collection,
Time Stands Still a gripping mix of originals and potent covers. The new collection puts the exclamation point on a legendary career that shows no signs of slowing down. On the contrary, this blues and folk superstar continues to build creative momentum. His latest effort features a slew of tunes stripped down to their essence, shining the spotlight on Smither's understated power as a songwriter one who taps into emotions at their most elemental and powerful core. It's a reminder why artists as diverse as Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris and Diana Krall have mined Smither's catalog in the past.

He's teamed with producer and guitarist David "Goody" Goodrich and drummer Zak Trojano to create a simple, yet emotionally powerful musical landscape upon which to paint his blues and folk-fueled narratives. As always, Smither's signature finger-picking style mixes with his whiskey-meets-honey vocals to
deliver intensely honest meditations on life, love and loss. Smither's 11th studio album was recorded in just
three days and captures the vibrant urgency and immediacy of his live shows. It features eight original compositions as well as covers from Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, and 1920s country-blues songster Frank Hutchison.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Don't Call Me Stranger
  2. Time Stands Still
  3. Surprise, Surprise
  4. I Don't Know
  5. Call Yourself
  6. Old Man Down
  7. I Told You So
  8. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
  9. Miner's Blues
  10. Someone Like Me
  11. Madame Geneva's

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 29, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Signature Records
  • ASIN: B002IVLWF6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,900 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Colin Spence on October 10, 2009
Format: Audio CD
This is my first album by Chris Smither. I came across `Time Stands Still' by accident, I listened to the samples and I was rather partial to his whisky-soaked low tenor, one which seems to have been fashioned by the vagaries of time and circumstances - a bit like my favourite pair of shoes (not the height of fashion, well worn, but soft and extremely comfortable). Instrumental accompaniment is spare and very 'rootsy' - David Goodrich (various electric/acoustic guitars, and occasional piano), Zak Trojano (drums/percussion) and Chris (acoustic guitar and foot tapping). On a couple of tracks, there are some overdubbed light harmony vocals from Chris.

The songs have wonderful lyrics - and Chris's writing often employs a colourful and witty turn of phrase (see Dr. Debra Jan Bibel's earlier review for a few examples). 8 songs are written by Chris and 3 are by other songwriters - a few comments about my favourites :

SURPRISE, SURPRISE (Chris Smither) - A fairly up-tempo topical song, in which Chris makes some wry (and slightly sarcastic) observations about the impact of the banking system meltdown - but why worry?, life's too short.

OLD MAN DOWN (Chris Smither) - A slow blues with a lot of fluent and delicate acoustic guitar picking (including a one minute intro). Listen out too for the percussion, which includes a bass drum thump on the backbeat. Also, in the background, there's some eerie electric guitar (referred to as 'ambient guitar' in the liner notes) weaving in and out. On this track, Chris's voice reminded me a little of Jeffrey Foucault.

IT TAKES A LOT TO LAUGH, IT TAKES A TRAIN TO CRY (Bob Dylan) - Rhythmically, a lot different to the mid-paced shuffle of the original - here, it's performed as a slow tempo folk-blues.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 29, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Even though this album is not Chris Smither's strongest, there is much to enchant and delight. His songwriting skills certainly are as sharp as ever, and his first five tracks especially, whose poetic lyrics are included in the enclosed booklet, all have some phrases that persist and dwell within: I ain't evil, I'm just bad; My shadow often kicks me from behind; The trickle down will float you up; The wisest answer's one you learned a long ago: I don't know [there is a Zen school dedicated to that one]; See if you can answer your own call. Smither's soft, wistful voice and foot-tapping complement his catchy simple melodies. It is a pleasure to listen to this old guy. His cover of Bob Dylan's It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It takes a Train to Cry is a captivating rendition, a solid example of contemporary folk music; and the cover of Mark Knofler's Madame Geneva's demonstrates the keen influence of traditional British folk styles on Knofler's composition. Smithers has musical support by guitarist David Goodrich and drummer Zak Trojano, but their accompaniment is subdued and add color to the performance. Chris Smither fans will certainly enjoy this lastest opus of wit and simplicity.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By hyperbolium on September 29, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Born and raised in New Orleans, Smither broke into Boston's coffeehouse circuit amid the folk revival of the 1960s. Raised on folk and blues classics, he developed a unique finger-picking style and waxed his first albums for the same Poppy label on which Lightnin' Hopkins, Eric Von Schmidt and Doc Watson also recorded. He's performed steadily for over forty years, but his recording career was marked by lengthy stretches of substance abuse that sidelined his studio work for much of the 1970s and 1980s. He warmed back up to full-time recording with 1991's live release, Another Way to Find You, and recommenced studio work with 1993's superb Happier Blue.

His latest album, his fourteenth overall, is a textbook of his art. Smither sticks to acoustic guitar, with David Goodrich playing atmospheric electric, and Zak Trojano adding sparse percussion. The mix of instruments provides a fuller experience than a solo guitar, yet leaves the spotlight on Smither's emotive playing. His voice has the raspy edge of Tom Waits but without the guttural bowery bottom end. He growls the half-sung/half-spoken original "I Told You So" like Mark Knopfler, who's own "Madame Geneva's" closes the album with the sound of traditional English folk. Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" is reworked from the boozy, shambling backing of the 1965 original and sung in a haggard voice set to contemplative guitar.

Smither's picking is everywhere, and in his hands, the guitar is an uncommonly flexible instrument.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Autonomeus TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 24, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I saw Chris in Atlanta on October 17th, 2009, at Eddie's Attic -- great show! Amazingly it had been 10 years since I last caught him live in Logan, Utah. I bought this CD, TIME STANDS STILL, at the show. I haven't been able to review it until now because while the live show was still fresh in my mind the recordings were just not as good, not as vivid, not as funny. Fortunately, with the passage of time I now associate my memories of the live show with these recordings instead of in contrast to the recordings. So with a little distance I can now say, yes, this is another excellent Chris Smither album! If you are not familiar with Smither, he is a superb songwriter and a fantastic acoustic blues guitarist. Like Bob Dylan, he has a great expressive voice that you wouldn't expect to hear at the opera or on Top 40 radio.

The opener is "Don't Call Me Stranger," which was hilarious live, a guy quite crudely trying to get a girl into bed with lines like "I ain't evil, I'm just bad," and "come on baby, feel that infection, I'm your cure." Smither is credited with vocals, acoustic guitar and feet, and if you've seen him live you understand that he is his own rhythm section, tapping his feet on a board. (On the record, we also have David on electric guitar and Zak on percussion -- I believe David is producer David Goodrich, but Zak remains last name-less.) Next up is the quite serious song for Chris's wife, the title track. It is quite beautiful and moving and brought a hush to Eddie's Attic. The third song was my favorite live, "Surprise, Surprise.
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