Caitlyn Smith - High
For some time, Caitlyn Smith has remained one to watch, her emotive music gaining power with each passing release, and here on HIGH, the identity of her persona seems more defined and whole than ever. The Nashville-based songwriter has been penning songs for such diverse artists as Jason Aldean, Miley Cyrus, Rascal Flatts, Garth Brooks, James Bay, Chris Isaak, Sara Evans, Sunny Sweeney, Lauren Alaina and Lindsey Ell, for ten years or more. It’s somewhat refreshing to hear her voice along with her very own take and production on her own songs. These are, after all, her songs to sing and she certainly has the vocal prowess to do so. She creates something subtly majestic, her words drawing sketches, her music fleshing them out into fully realised worlds to get lost in, and in doing so marking herself out as an artist at the very top of her game. She writes and sings her heart out. In the ‘American Idol’-ised landscape that constitutes today’s music business, she is someone to be thankful for with compositions that convey very personal, ordinary sentiments—musical expressions that feel very lived-in and relatable. Late-night lullabies. Sorrowful refrains. Musings on relationships, beauty and joy.
On this, her third album, Caitlyn has taken full responsibility for the production, and the result is a stunning-sounding record. It’s not easy to pin her to any particular style. There are elements of country, tinges of folk, but mainly her music falls into the category of adult contemporary pop. The title song, previously recorded by Miley Cyrus, is a tour de force performance that never revolves around technique—instead she channels her heartbreak, sorrow and acceptance into sometimes soothing, sometimes serrated devotions of pure, unadulterated feelings. There’s a lighter, more delicate touch to the gently swaying Good As Us. There’s something almost mesmeric about the way she ascribes grace within the details of her own romantic experiences and thoughts concerning the near-perfect love. The playful, sexy Downtown Baby is full of sensual desire as she sets out to reignite her dull surroundings for the bright lights and buzz of the city.
There’s pure, unadulterated angst in Maybe In Another Life, her heart-breaking vulnerability portraying the turmoil of a once fiery romance now nothing more than a recurring dream of what might have been. Nothing Against You is the bittersweet contrast between the before and after of an angry row. Taking a ponderous pace, Ian Fitchuk’s organ slinks soulfully around Caitlyn’s plaintive vocal toward a slow build.
An incredible singer and songwriter and one of the brightest new talents of the past decade, Caitlyn Smith finally emerges into the spotlight, a place where she’s long belonged. A compelling blend of grace, yearning, and a little grit, Caitlyn’s subtly expressive voice would enhance virtually any setting.