Apr 17, 2023 - News

Caitlyn Smith's new album hits a high note

Caitlyn Smith. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Ryman Auditorium

Tears, doubt and self-discovery fueled Caitlyn Smith's new album "High & Low," which was released April 14.

Driving the news: Smith tells Axios the album was born out of pandemic-era downtime that gave her space to confront old insecurities and anxiety. The end result puts her "mental turmoil" to music in songs that are deeply personal but instantly relatable.

  • "It took a while," she says, but the album allowed her to "push through the fear and get to the place of real freedom and creativity."

Why it matters: Songwriters like Smith are the engine that makes Music Row run — She's written songs for Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks. (Her most recognizable song might be the pop hit "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" by Meghan Trainor and John Legend.)

  • But Smith's new album, which she produced herself, is a potent reminder of her power as a headlining performer. It has arrived at a pivotal moment in her career.
  • Last week, Smith received an Academy of Country Music award nomination for new female artist.

What she's saying: "I feel like I just hit my stride," Smith says of her creative process.

  • "I surrounded myself with an incredible group of women as I made this project. And they really created a space to just let me be vulnerable."

Zoom in: The song "Lately" is a ferocious heartbreak ballad that builds from a brooding verse into an emotional crescendo that hits like a thunderclap.

  • At a live performance in Hillsboro Village last week, Smith was a force. She unleashed every note with electric intensity.

The big picture: Smith is one of many female artists who are pushing the boundaries of country and producing riveting, emotionally honest work that stands out in a sea of samey radio hits.

  • "The women creators in this town that I love and respect are making the best music that I've heard in this town for 20 years," Smith said, mentioning Ingrid Andress and Lainey Wilson, among others.
  • "It makes me feel really proud."

💭 Adam's thought bubble: There is no doubt it's been tough to be a Nashvillian for the past few weeks. But at Smith's show last week, I was reminded of one of the things that makes this city beautiful.

  • We are surrounded by creativity here, and during every Kroger visit it's possible we could run into a songwriting genius like Smith in the bread aisle.
  • The world-class musicians who call Nashville home create the songs that help us cope and come together after tragedy. And we get a front-row seat.

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