*And I was green, greener than the hill
Where flowers grew and the sun shone still
Now I’m darker than the deepest sea
Just hand me down, give me a place to be
-from Nick Drake’s "Place to Be"
The third release [2/7/2012 on Potato Eater Records] from Sunshone Still,
ThewaytheworldDies, chronologically recounts pivotal events and people before and after a
family tragedy. From new love (“Someone to Call Home”) to the final desperate act revealed
in the title track. The album then turns to the after effects of loss in songs like “Old Snakes”
and “Boy Superman”. In a hopeful conclusion, Smith lets go in “Can’t Hold On to a Ghost”
and makes a promise to his newborn son in “Was & Will Be” (a duet with Danielle Howle).
Sunshone Still is equal parts band and musical nom de plume for Chris Smith, a Nashville
native now living in Columbia, SC. Since the 2005 debut release of Dead Letters, Smith was
featured on the NPR program, All Songs Considered: Open Mic, and placed songs on the
PBS series, Roadtrip Nation. Performing Songwriter listed Dead Letters as an Editor’s DIY
Pick, and No Depression called it, “impressive” and “a musical landscape painted in the
hushed tones of twilight”.
Smith’s 2007 sophomore album, Ten Cent American Novels, was inspired by Hampton
Sides’ non-fiction book, Blood and Thunder. Smith researched, wrote and produced 17
songs and folded them into an ambitious sound to tell the interwoven story of Kit Carson, the
Navajo Indians, and Manifest Destiny. No Depression called Novels “a fascinating,
cinematic musical exercise…”
Since 2009, the band has solidified around the talents of Smith (guitar/vocal), Rodney Lanier
and Jason Hausman (multi-instrumentalists), Stowe Barber (drums), and Flavio Mangione
(bass). Sadly, Lanier passed away in December 2011, two months before the release of the
album, after a battle with cancer. Dan Hood has graciously returned to the band to fill in for
the much missed and beloved "Hot Rod".
When not playing music, Chris owns and operates several restaurants, watches the Daily
Show, and drives his kids to tee ball games. His siblings were all given meaningful, odd
names. He was not so lucky. Hence, Sunshone Still.
photo by Jeremy Deal