Chris Smither at Music at the Mission March 21

| 29 Sep 2011 | 02:38

West Milford - Music at the Mission will host Chris Smither on Saturday, March 21. Some artists continually reinvent themselves; others identify their muse early on and spend their careers single-mindedly pursuing it, remaining recognizably themselves through a career-long process of refinement, growth, and discovery. Chris Smither belongs to the latter group. Leave the Light On, Smither’s masterful 12th album—the first he’s released on his own Mighty Albert label—stands as the quintessence of his life’s work while throwing in some new wrinkles that reflect where he’s been and what he’s encountered since the last time around. But Smither’s central theme as he enters his 60s is clearer than ever. “The last three or four records I’ve done are mostly talking about the big questions—life, death, love and… not love—and where the whole thing’s going,” he says. This new “fistful of tunes,” as he calls it, finds Smither once again in a contemplative mood, examining his thought processes on “Open Up,” struggling to distinguish between self-deception and truth on “Seems So Real” and seeking the most fundamental kind of closure on “Father’s Day.” No, Leave the Light On is not a party record. “Since I started recording again around 20 years ago [22, actually], I’ve been writing about the same sorts of things; it’s just about my own growing perception of it, and how clear can I make it?” Smither explains. “I guess I’m making it clearer, because people don’t often ask me what the songs are about anymore. It’s a process of engagement. When you write a song, you’ve got three or four minutes to get a-hold of somebody, and if they can remember one phrase or line when they walk away from it, you’ve won. And I think I’ve accomplished that.” Smither considers himself a performer first and foremost, and the fashioning of new material for each album brings added interest to both his fans and himself. “New tunes not only have a freshness of their own, but they also freshen up all the old material as well—they cast a new light on it,” he points out. “It’s an interesting process.” Opening the show for Chris Smither is local performer Rebel Red. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8. Tickets can be ordered from the Mission Web site,, or by calling 800-613-1455. Advance tickets are $20 for members, $22 for non-members, and $25 at the door. Music at the Mission is located at 1452 Union Valley Road in West Milford at the West Milford Presbyterian Church.