Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Folk, Pop
Listen to Samples
Similarly Requested CDs
Most underrated songwriting genius we know of
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A father of four college age sons, our whole family listens to Michael Smith over and over. There is a depth of meaning, and a creative force in most of the songs which have enobled our lives. A Panther in Michigan is a favorite. One Blessed Hour is a classic of great spiritual power. Michael is a brilliant live performer appearing around the country to way too small audiences."
Deeply Felt Songs Soulfully Rendered
Charles Calvert | Bellevue, WA United States | 11/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In every generation, a small group of artists manage to find their way into the public eye who are clearly born with a talent that sets them apart from their peers. People like Bob Dylan, John Coltrane, Leonard Cohen, Pat Methany and Joni Mitchell certainly are among that number. There are days when I believe that the much less well known Michael Smith should be mentioned as one of that same talented company.
This review is based on the first of the two albums included on this CD.My copy of that album is vinyl. It contains strong melodies and well written lyrics accompanied by a well played guitar and a wavering, breathy voice notable more for its soulfulness than for its range or beauty. These songs are set apart primarily by their depth of feeling, and occasionally by their humor or warmth.
The first song on the album, Panther in Michigan, is a literal description of a panther chased through the night on the border between Michigan and Indiana. But clearly the song has an evocative second level of meaning that touches upon the wild, fearful things that live in all our hearts. There is nothing in the song that suggests that it is meant to be about anything other than a real panther chased by real people. But the spooky mood of the song invokes an aura of mystery. Loose in the midwest, supposedly the least poetic and most mundane part of our nation, the panther that slinks through this song is something dangerous and romantic that emerges right from the heartland of America, revealing something about the spirit of this country and its inhabitants. This is not, in my opinion, meant to be a song with a derogatory political message, but rather an evocation of the wild, mysterious, and untamable heart of America. Of course one could easily deny that the song is about anything so esoteric, but the sense that this song is about more than what is found on the literal level is precisely why it is so compelling.
The next song, Demon Lover, is about lost love and the danger of living in the past. This song has a supernatural element to it, revealed when a dead lover returns to haunt an average suburban wife living in the midwest. Unlike Panther In Michigan, the theme of this song is stated explicitly by the author: "Watch out for people who belong in your past, don't let them back in your life." But the song gains its power from its haunting atmosphere and the unusual ending found in the lyrics of the last verse.
The next song, Spoon River, is probably Smith's most famous song. It evokes a romantic, civil war era past. The theme of this song seems to be that life was once simpler and more humane. During that time, people were bound together by their hearts and their families in a way that brings a kind of comfort and warmth that we see too little of in this day and age. The melody of this song is unusually beautiful, and the lyrics roll off Michael's tongue in a shimmering cascade of swirling imagery. I don't know Edgar Lee Masters famous book of the same name well enough to know whether or not this song is based on it.
The final song on the first side of this album, called "The Dutchman," is one of the most perfectly formed folk songs I have ever heard. It is a sad song about an old man who lives in Amsterdam with his dreams, a woman called Margaret, and a tentative grasp on reality. The song is so somber and heartfelt that almost anyone else would have let the lyrics dissolve into maudlin pathos. But the lyrics of this song offer no sentimental escape from the old man's plight, only a heartfelt sense of his humanity. This song is so moody, and so ethereally beautiful, that I am at a loss to describe it. Sometimes I see it simply as an ode to the romantic rain drenched streets and canals of old Amsterdam.
Clearly there is no room here to go on analyzing each song in this album in such depth. I can only suggest that if you are drawn to singer songwriters such as Leonard Cohen or Joni Mitchell, that you give this fine album a try. A word should also be said about the excellent violinist who adds much, to the simple, tasteful accompaniment of each song found on this album. I own over 500 hundred albums, and this is certainly among my 25 favorites."
Another reason to hate country music awards
Charles Calvert | 11/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this for the songs I knew from Steve Goodman's albums -
Dutchman, Ballad of Dan Moody, Spoon River. I found plenty other
fine songs. Colleen's Song, especially. Why Michael Smith is not more well known than Michael W. Smith is enough to break your heart."