Cait Watters gives her thoughts on HIGH, the new mini-album from rising songwriter and performer CAITLYN SMITH
On her latest release, Caitlyn Smith takes matters into her own hands.
High, Smith’s third album, is as Caitlyn Smith as you can get. It’s self produced and she had a hand in writing every song, a process that proved to be fruitful for the Minnesoteon.
‘Self-producing has taught me so much about trusting my own compass,’ shared Smith. ‘In the past, I’ve been guilty of looking for direction from everyone else. That’s why I decided to choose my own adventure. It has been a beautifully terrifying experience and has added a layer of vulnerability when you’re also responsible for painting the sonic landscape as an artist, in addition to writing and singing the songs.’
The end destination of this direction is marvelous. Stories are told, emotions are shared but, above all else, Smith’s voice shines. This album showcases a hidden gem of a voice, perhaps one of the most powerful in the genre, while musically sounding great, too.
‘High’, the opener, establishes this from the get-go. The track was co-written by Smith, Jennifer Decilveo, and Miley Cyrus, originally featuring on the latter’s album, Plastic Hearts. Both versions are similar, with beautiful acoustic guitars and harmonies but there’s something about Smith’s version that just edges it. Perhaps it’s Amanda Shires on the fiddle. Perhaps it’s the way a crashing chorus unleashes the might of Smith’s voice. Or perhaps it’s the way that chorus sneaks up on you. Whatever IT is, it’s great and I love it.
The whimsical ‘Dreamin’s Free’ is co-written by Shane McAnally and Lori McKenna, and sees Smith singing about big dreams that are just that little bit out of reach. A lovely chilled out number that hit me with some Colbie Caillat vibes (I love me some Colbie) and a song that feels perfect for some (hopefully upcoming) lovely sunny days.
I just love how this record is produced. This might be her first foray into the world of producing but you wouldn’t know it as she finds the perfect balance on this record. ‘Downtown Baby’ is a great example of this. It’s perhaps the poppiest – and definitely catchiest – track on the album with more electric and less acoustic but it’s not overproduced, and the production does not drown out her vocals. Impressive radio adds for this single are proof she’s doing it right, with this song having potential to be a breakout hit.
‘Nothing Against You’ shows off a bluesy side of Smith with a sultry number about the realities of a relationship; those fights that happen with the one you love. It leads on perfectly to ‘Maybe In Another Life’, an agonizing tale of not meant to be. It’s my favorite on the album, and I couldn’t help but wonder if putting these two songs back-to-back was intentional, if this is a continuation of the earlier story about that not-so perfect pairing. ‘We were fireworks in the rain, cigarettes and gasoline’ – I love the opening imagery as Smith sings about a relationship that had one day been so full of promise but, ultimately, fizzled out, picking up on those earlier threads. There’s strings on this one and they, along with Smith’s voice, build towards a very (satisfyingly) heartbreaking end. It feels big, anthemic, the sort of big cinematic song towards the end of a movie. Brilliantly sung; brilliantly produced; and the fact that the track that follows is called ‘I Don’t Like The World Without You’? Brilliantly put together, too.
Caitlyn Smith is a woman of many hats and she wears them effortlessly.
“High” by Caitlyn Smith is out today (April 8th) and available to stream or download HERE
Caitlyn Smith – High – Track Listing
1. High (Intro)
3. Dreamin’s Free
4. Good As Us
5. Downtown Baby
6. Nothing Against You
7. Maybe In Another Life
8. I Don’t Like The World Without You