TONY JOE WHITE - Smoke From The Chimney (2021)
Tony Joe White was such a great American songwriter for the simple reason that he always wrote sincerely about what he knew and what he felt, using concise, direct sentences with no fluff. He never hid the pain, the joy or the wistfulness in his words or how he delivered them. A common man’s Ernest Hemingway, growing up on a cotton farm, once driving a dump truck for a living and fishing around his native northeastern Louisiana environs, the Swamp Fox grew up connecting the music of Lightnin’ Hopkins as much as who, like Hemingway did, found communion with the great outdoors. These themes and other aspects of his life’s experiences filtered into his songs from the start, with “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night In Georgia.”
The title song from White’s much-anticipated posthumous release Smoke From the Chimney takes his semi-autobiographical approach a little further, reflecting on times long past. Unveiled a few days ago with this video and on the usual streaming/download services, “Smoke From the Chimney” is full of nostalgia from a man a sizing up an entire life from the standpoint of someone who is near the end of it. Dan Auerbach applies sensitive production to this simple country folk tune; the arrangement inconspicuously bobs in and out of with layers of contrasting guitars (including a nylon string one), a church organ, wordless background vocals and even hints of horns that give the song a dash of RnB. But Tony Joe’s deep baritone, softly moaning at barely above the whisper, remains at the center of it all.
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