Such Things Are Finely Done:
Michael Smith is probably the ultimate singer-songwriter for the connoisseur or the ultimate songwriter's songwriter and as such is one of the best kept secrets of American culture. It's just time for you to discover him. In my lists, and in many other critics' lists, he will always make the top ten, alongside Townes Van Zandt, Mickey Newbury and the likes.
Ever since I found him, in The Kerrville Kronicles, a fanzine from the UK, and bought two of his CD's, Time and Michael Smith/Love Stories (which includes two of his previous LP's in 1 CD), I have never looked back. I have been playing these two CD's regularly every month for the last ten years. I have never tired of his melodies or his catchy lyrics with lines like:
His two mentioned studio CD's were stripped versions of his songs, mostly you only heard Smith's magical voice and his guitar, with some background vocal, and a few string instruments. This live CD holds one hour of music, and is a very live production with vocals and lush with Smith's accomplished fingerpicking on the guitar. Audience reaction to Smith's jokes, mostly during the first three cuts, makes the recording a bit too natural for a regular listening.
The CD includes songs that span his whole career, including his best known song The Dutchman, made famous by Steve Goodman and performed by tens, if not hundreds, of singers. It also includes my favorite song I Brought My Father With Me, in a heart breaking version. The lyrics of this great song can be found on the web, and I couldn't help but quote it entirely:
I find it hard to convince my friends to listen to Michael Smith. He's not a performer you can listen to while you talk and appreciate. He doesn't jump into your face at once. It takes a few listenings to really appreciate his music and his humor. But I hope this review does it entices many of you to seek him out.
I think the studio CD's are better than this one, slightly so, if only just because the laughs are sometimes a bit annoying, but not so much as to make you disregard this one. OK, do yourself a favor, buy them all.
I am a happy man today, I have no more time to keep praising this genius, and I am going to listen to this CD non-stop until the end of this year. Enjoy!
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