Recording information: Soundwave, Inc., Washington DC (1984).
After a long layoff, Smither returned to performing and recording in the mid-'80s, IT AIN'T EASY is an impressive document of re-entry. In re-establishing himself, Smither played it smart by doing what he does best--performing solo, with only his own deft country blues fingerpicking for accompaniment and only his husky, expressive voice to get the message across. Apparently, he hadn't been doing much writing in the preceding years, since this album consists chiefly of covers. Fortunately, Smither is every bit as gifted an interpreter as he is a songwriter, easily caressing the lyrics of the songs and wringing deep meaning from them. He pays tribute to his roots by damn near redefining tunes by Chuck Berry and Mississippi John Hurt and nods to his contemporaries with a devastating version of Randy Newman's "Guilty" and Danny O'Keefe's unjustly obscure political cautionary tale "So Long, Harry Truman."