At one point, Caitlyn Smith was driving 14 hours to Nashville as often as she could to follow a dream. Now, she is one of the city’s most exciting singer/songwriters. Before she was noticed as a performer however, she was recognized for her incredible songwriting abilities and began writing songs for other artists. She quickly worked her way up the Nashville songwriting scene, penning songs for the likes of Garth Brooks, Cassadee Pope, and James Bay, as well as the duets “You Can’t Make Old Friends” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, and the now multi-platinum “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” by Meghan Trainor and John Legend. This lead her to take a hiatus from performing, in hopes that she could continue to develop her craft as a songwriter.
While her career as a songwriter was flourishing, her desire to return to the stage grew more and more with each passing day. Despite her impressive songwriting accomplishments, labels were unwilling to sign Smith as a singer. She even recalls a day where she sat on her guitar case in the rain and began to cry because of the constant rejection she was facing. While this would have been the end of the road for many performers, it wasn’t for Caitlyn Smith. It might have taken some time to find her own voice and discover what she wanted to say, but when she did, she was unstoppable. She went on to be named one of Rolling Stone’s “10 New Country Artists You Need To Know” in May of 2016, release the Starfire – EP in July of 2016, and sign to to Monument Records in January of 2017. Now, with her debut album, also titled Starfire, Caitlyn Smith continues her ascent into country superstardom.
If nothing else, Caitlyn Smith is a storyteller. Her voice is commanding yet inviting, making for the perfect storytelling combination. Her passion and emotion is ever-present throughout the album, regardless of the differing themes and tones. From her rougher growling on the heartbreaking “Do You Think About Me” – where she admits to still being in love with an ex – to the delicate and sorrowful “This Town Is Killing Me” – where she details the pain that following her dream in Nashville has caused her – Smith is constantly delivering spectacular vocal performances. Her voice has a natural southern twang to it, which is perfectly complemented by the more earthy and organic instrumentation. The sharp, catchy guitar on “Contact High”, the clean, somber piano on “Cheap Date”, and the bleak, gloomy strings on “East Side Restaurant” not only compliments Smith’s vocals, but the lyrical content as well, making for some of the most impressive instrumental moments on the album.
While much of the album is Caitlyn Smith laying her heart on the line, under a sea of woeful lyrics and folksy instrumentation, there is a distinct pop appeal running throughout that makes these tracks easily accessible. The title track has one of the catchiest choruses on the album, where Smith refers to herself as a starfire that can’t be burnt out, and her rougher yelling on the already catchy chorus of “Contact High” is another standout moment. Even slower tracks like “Tacoma”, where Smith declares that all she needs is a drive to Tacoma to get an ex out of her mind, are masterfully performed and supremely infectious. With Starfire, Caitlyn Smith paints a stunning picture of a woman who despite life’s hardships, has found her voice, and intends on sharing it with whoever is fortunate enough to listen. Check out the album below!
Download: “Starfire”, “Tacoma”, and “Contact High”