The EP ranges from bluesy rockers to more acoustic rooted country, but what remains consistent throughout the five tracks is the quality of the songwriting, and the power of Smith's voice. More than any other record, Smith tackles the topic of being a songwriter in country music today. "This Town is Killing Me" is a specific highlight. The song approaches the music business in a way that isn't often touched in mainstream magic. Lyrics like "Nashville, you win. Your steel guitars and broken hearts have done me in" demonstrate the difficulty of being an artist in the business. This is an important song for any person to listen to, not just people involved in the industry. Especially with the recent Justice Department ruling on songwriting (to read more click here), regular people need to see how incredibly hard it is to be a songwriter in country music today.
But even though the song has a pretty negative connotation, Smith makes sure to mention how addicting it is, and how much she loves her work with this line slipped in at the end: "I'll wake up here tomorrow and do it all over again, even though you're killing me."
The real 'buzz' tracks of the record are "Tacoma" and "Before I Called You Baby." "Tacoma" has been very highly praised by Garth Brooks (cut by Brooks) and Trisha Yearwood, and now to see it being performed by a woman with a voice like Smith, it's a completely different experience. "Before I Called You Baby" has been spotlighted on Spotify, Apple Music, and iTunes. Of the two, "Tacoma" is the highlight. Smith's vocals are absolutely breathtaking, especially the high note before the final, epic chorus. The video is also a beauty, with footage of Smith's train ride to Tacoma. And you can't forget about "Do You Think About Me," a pleading song that highlights Smith's songwriting. The details in this song are endlessly interesting, with the mention of a 'latte two pumps classic' and other slightly quirky tidbits that make the song memorable.
From my experience of listening to hundreds of new country artists, the artists that are songwriters first are the best ones. I think they develop more of a sense of themselves as an artist, and their music while they write songs for other people. Smith has been able to do that, and now is an artist than has an amazing sense of self, and also is able to make killer country music.
Best tracks: Tacoma, Starfire, This Town Is Killing Me
Throwaway tracks: none
Overall rating: 5 crowns