It’s been a great couple months for folk/blues icon Chris Smither. Back in July, the soon-to-be 70-year-old released the dynamite “Still on the Levee,” a two-disc set featuring 25 reimagined versions of Smither’s best material. Now his friends and peers are paying tribute to the songwriting legend marking 50 years in the music business this year.
“Link of Chain: A Songwriters Tribute to Chris Smither” is a pitch-perfect album featuring 15 covers of Smither compositions by the likes of Dave Alvin, Bonnie Raitt, Josh Ritter, Eilen Jewell, Tim O’Brien, Peter Mulvey and Mary Gauthier. It’s a fitting tribute to one of the all-time greats and a must for anyone who loves Smither’s music.
There isn’t a bad song to be found on “Link of Chain,” but my personal favorites are Gauthier’s knee-buckling rendition of “I Feel the Same”; Raitt’s live reading of “Love Me Like a Man,” a song that’s been a staple in her live show for years; and Ritter’s take on “Rosalie.” Other standouts include Loudon Wainwright III’s version of “A Place in Line,” Jewell’s reading of “Can’t Shake the Blues” and Patty Larkin’s cover of “Train Home.” (Jeffrey Sisk)