Caitlyn Smith is stripping things back and letting her music do the talking as she unleashes a powerful set of emotions in her new full-length collection, High & Low.
Last year, Smith released High, the first half of a record, and as of April 14, her audience gets to experience the completed project with the addition of six new songs. On top of delivering great vulnerability and the truth of her personal life in the rawest form, the critically acclaimed singer/songwriter also self-produced the record with the help of an all-female team.
The previously-released tracks include “High,” “Dreamin’s Free,” “Good As Us,” “Downtown Baby,” “Nothing Against You,” “Maybe In Another Life,” and “I Don’t Like The World Without You.”
The project begins with a stunning intro that flows into the leading track as she finds her dreamy vocals taking flight in celebration of some of the greatest “Highs” in life. Along with the resounding joy she finds in the brightest moments, Smith also taps into the “Lows” that are often kept inside, brewing with sadness. As a whole, listeners will experience a journey through a complete set of emotions involving the good, the bad, and just about everything in between.
On top of releasing her new project, the female songstress is in the midst of her THE GREAT PRETENDER SOLO TOUR in partnership with DTour. The first leg of this trek began April 3 in Austin, TX, and runs through June 1 with support from Alex Hall. She will make stops in 15 independent venues across the country while celebrating the stories behind the songs in an intimate setting.
Later this year, she will also serve as support on select dates for Little Big Town and George Strait.
Smith caught up with Country Now ahead of the album’s release to discuss her creative process, what High & Low means to her, and her 2023 touring schedule. Continue reading for an update on Caitlyn Smith’s career in this Q&A.
How are you feeling about finally getting to release your completed High & Low project?
I am just so excited. It’s been such a long journey and such a long process, and so of course it always feels good to finally be here at release day and getting it out into the world.
How long has this album been in the making?
Well, my last record was March 13th, 2020, which was unfortunate. So I literally, that next week I started writing for the next record like right away. I turned to writing right away as a way for therapy and some form of distraction. So I’ve been working on it for a couple years now.
Last year we got to hear the first part of the collection with High, and now we are getting six new songs. Why did you decide to break it up into separate sets of releases?
Well originally, I had thought about doing this as kind of an A side, B side where it’s just the High and then just the Low. I wanted to break it up because when I went in and finished the first batch of songs, like they weren’t done and ready, but I really wasn’t finished writing the record. So, I decided to kind of just put it out in pieces because also the consumer was different…I feel like less and less people are listening to full albums so I thought this is a good way to slowly…And some of my heroes were doing that as well, you know, John Mayer had done it where he had put a chunk of songs out and I lived with those. So there was a lot of reasons, I guess. It was originally supposed to be a High side and Low side and then when I completed the full record, I realized that as a complete thought, it kind of needed to be mixed together. One feeling and then the other, because the highs were still kind of wrapped with ribbons of pain and the lows still held these bittersweet moments, right? They still had moments of light and hope in ’em. So, it wasn’t one or the other and I thought, man, when we release the full project, let’s mix ’em up.
What do these new six songs bring to the collection to make it feel complete?
Well, I feel like this record was a massive growth process for me. You know, deciding to self-produce the album was something that was really, really scary and it put me in a different position of vulnerability than I’ve ever really been in. I also think that when you put yourself in a position where you’re uncomfortable, that always results in growth too. So you know, I grew a lot and I feel like my ears were sharpened, of course, like musically I grew, but just also as a human because I think putting myself in this vulnerable position, it cracked another layer open in my writing. So I released High, but I wasn’t finished writing for the project, and I feel like as I continued on through the year, the songs just got a little more closer to home and a little more closer to my stories. So with these six new songs, I mean it really is just touching on different layers of vulnerability and pain and different frustrations and yeah. It feels like a complete sentence now instead of just holding the high, it’s really the yin and the yang.
You said you decided to self-produce this album for the first time. What was that experience like?
I’ve always been curious about the production side. I had a Pro Tools rig when I was a teenager in my basement so I would come home from high school and work on demos. So it’s something that I loved early on, but when I moved to Nashville, I didn’t see any females doing it and there were definitely no female artists producing themselves. So I just thought, “oh, maybe this isn’t a thing.” And of course, I’m no stranger to the studio; I’ve made a lot of records through the years, independent and not, and it’s always been something I’ve been curious about doing. But it really wasn’t until Covid and I, you know, was starting to do a lot of my own demos and in my office again, and kind of fell in love with that process. It was kind of like getting a new set of paints. It allowed me to be creative in this whole new way. And I had a collaborator songwriter friend, Jen DeSilvio, who has a lot of songs on this record, but she’s also a producer as well as a writer. And you know, it was just really her like encouraging voice and mentorship that really gave me the bravery to step into the space and take a chance on myself. I’m so glad that I did because it ended up being something that I really fell in love with.
What do you hope your listeners get out of hearing this project in its entirety?
My hope for someone picking up this record is that it gives them a space to feel seen in whatever state that they’re living in. The record holds, you know, the entire range of human emotion, like the high’s and the low’s and everything in between, and I dive into some of the deeper, harder emotions as well to process. So that is my hope, is that one, that people will feel seen and connect to this music, but also my hope in taking this chance on myself to produce the record, I hope that there’s other females out there that see that and feel inspired and encouraged to take the chance on themselves and to make their own damn record. I think it would be so cool if it just inspires one woman to do that.
Since you’ve been so hands-on with the process, what has been your biggest takeaway from the makings of High & Low?
This record has been just a massive learning experience for me. It really taught me that if there’s something that you’re afraid of, why not just go for it? Why not just try it? Because the worst thing that’s gonna happen is you’re gonna learn and you’re gonna grow. So yeah, I feel grateful for this record for this season, and I’m just really excited for want to hear it.
You recently launched your 2023 The Great Pretender Solo Tourandthis run is described as an “unplugged, unaccompanied, unique arrangement.” So can you talk about your intentions behind building these shows?
I kicked it off last week in Texas and it was so much fun. So my favorite way to listen to music is just one instrument and one voice, and just raw and stripped. So when I went to the UK last year, it was just me and my guitar and my story. I had such an incredible experience, like, you know, I’ve spent years and years on tour with my band, and so to be able to go back to just me in a guitar on a stage, it was a really magical experience because of the connection, because of the vulnerability. And I fell in love with it.
I thought, “man, I’d love to do my next US tour like this.” Where it’s just a chance to really strip the songs down into the rawest form, purest form, and really have a chance to connect with the audience and share my story. I pulled a little bit from, I’ve seen little clips of like Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway play where he tells the stories, he plays a song, you know? So it’s a little bit pulled from there, but you know, also really just growing up in Nashville and falling in love with the writing rounds as well, so trying to pull some of that element. So it’s just me and the guitar and the piano, and I kind of run around the stage between all of ’em and it’s been such a fun experience. I’m so excited to do the whole tour like this.
What has been your favorite song to play live so far?
I’m still trying to get them all under my fingers, but actually, I’ve been getting the most response on the song “Alaska,” and it’s not released yet. I’ve been playing that out for like the last six months, and that’s the one that people come up to me and talk about. I think it’s because it’s maybe one of the rawest emotions on the album, maybe the most recent pain I’ve experienced. So it just feels like there’s some power in that song cause it holds so much truth.
You also have more opening dates coming up in support of Little Big Town and George Strait. How does it feel to get to bring your music to their audiences?
I am beyond grateful to get to share the stage with these friends and heroes of mine. You know, I’ve gotten to know them over the last handful of years and I’m so grateful for their mentorship and for their championing of my music. It’s crazy to me, but I’m just completely honored to share the stage with them and also grateful for the opportunity to just learn from these legendary humans on how it’s done. It’s just a blessing.
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