Chris Smith – Real Thing
(Boardwalk – 2004)
by D.J. Fazio
There’s a place in the Canadian wilderness where fresh water streams meander amidst ancient rocky cliffs and give way to tranquil lakes. Famed artists, The Group of Seven captured the beauty of Ontario’s Algonquin Park on canvas and now contemporary jazz artist Chris Smith has revealed it in song. Conceived in this living landmark and released on the Boardwalk Records label, Smith’s new CD, Real Thing is a reservoir filled with 10 original compositions. Co-written and co-produced with Greg Kavanagh (who also plays electric guitar on the project), each song overflows with earthy lyrics, organic emotion and has the legs to stand alone. This is Chris Smith: singer, songwriter, guitarist and Real Thing!
Striking the acoustic guitar, as well as emotional chords, he sings and scats his way through the title track, Real Thing. This upbeat opening number gets funkier with an exciting percussion section (Steve Heathcote/Arturo Avalos) and a gritty sax performance by Turner King. Following beautifully with the first radio single, Right Here, Right Now boasts a smokin’ sax solo by special guest and fellow Canuck, Warren Hill! Smith’s smoky vocals will grab your attention, take hold and you won’t let go! Thank goodness this romantic interlude continues with Whatever You Want, See My Life, Tonight, Two Steps Forward and Chase the Moon.
World music vibes awaken on the tracks, All Because of You and Drive. Gorgeous piano stylings (Marco Luciani) and electric guitar riffs by Peter Smith (Chris’ brother) kindle your senses, while samba beats (Armando Borg), seductive rhythms and Latin vocalese ignite your emotions. This wonderful project concludes, long before you want it to, with I’ll Remember You. A song that juxtaposes poignant piano and acoustic guitar lines with arresting drums & percussion, its vivid symbolism will linger long in your heart!
Having had the pleasure of seeing Smith perform this past summer, I can tell you he embraces his audience with a genuine rapport. He keeps it real with heartfelt, hook-laden songs, each distinctive and appealing. If you’re looking for the Real Thing, you’ve found it Right Here, Right Now in Chris Smith!