Life has its ups but also has its downs which the notion of an emotional rollercoaster accurately describes but they do find a way to go together. The philosophical idea of opposite yet interconnected forces or purposes, which the Chinese refer to as yin and yang is a principle of balance where you take the rough with the smooth, the good times with the bad or as Dolly Parton once described how “if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” This line is something that Caitlyn Smith looks to tread with her new record “High & Low”.
The third full-length studio album from the ACM Award nominated, Minnesota native goes even further than depicting this balance between the intertwining of life’s ups and downs but also showcasing her own vulnerability in taking off the societally desirable mask that only wants to focus on the highs as she opens up to embracing the opposite end of the spectrum. Smith’s self-produced fourteen-track project brings the “Low” into an emotionally level playing field with the “High” points that were first shared in the initial eight songs extended project released last year. Whilst only six of them are new (and only three of which were not available prior to the full release), this is not like a deluxe record nor is there separation from the initial eight tracks, which reiterates the ideology that highs and lows often have elements of both positive and negative feelings at the same time.
“Lately”, “Mississippi” and “I Think Of You” are reflective lows that come from the loss or looking back on better feelings whilst the stunning “Maybe In Another Life” which was cowritten with Jennifer Decilveo also demonstrates that the two emotions are not clearly one or the other. There are evident and undisputed high’s in “Downtown Baby” and obviously “High” which is the album’s opener, whilst “Alaska” was a song that she had previously identified to us in interview to being a real low where the vulnerability that she was willing to embrace really is clear as something that is emotionally difficult.
“Alaska” itself was the track that on listening to the record, kept drawing me back to it. There are a number of reasons that could contribute to this: being one of the three previously unreleased songs, talking to Caitlyn about the place that this came from and also is the song that I feel transforms most through the record from having seen it performed live acoustically. This more than anything else highlights her attention to detail as a producer because the addition of steel guitar combined with her stunning vocal on the recording does something that elevates this sadness to become so relatable and breath-taking.
Towards the end of the record comes the real collapse of the walls of Oz for Smith as she opens the curtains to portray the notion of how human nature will naturally put our guard up and filter out the negatives as we look to draw attention to the highs or what is expected. “The Great Pretender” which is the last track on the album and also the last song that was written for the project is not only the name of her current tour but the real willingness to end a sentence and show that she has now lifted this mask. “High & Low” is a real work of art shows this balance between emotions and how they are often not too far apart, it is a triumph for Smith as she shows her personal growth and acceptance that not everything has to appear perfect. The album takes you through the range of feelings which highlights her craft as both an unforgettable vocalist and distinct songwriter where she “hurts your feelings, so you don’t have to”.
“High & Low” Track listing 1 High – Intro (Caitlyn Smith, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Erin Decilveo) 2 High (Smith, Cyrus, Decilveo) 3 Dreamin’s Free (Smith, Lori McKenna, Shane McAnally) 4 Lately (Smith, Troy Verges, Gordie Sampson) 5 Mississippi (Smith, Verges, Decilveo, Jordan Minton) 6 Good As Us (Smith, Ben West, Dave Barnes) 7 Alaska (Smith, West, Sampson) 8 Maybe In Another Life (Smith, Decilveo) 9 I Think Of You (Smith, Ruston Kelly) 10 Nothing Against You (Smith, McAnally, Matt Jenkins) 11 Downtown Baby (Smith, Sampson, Simon Wilcox & Thomas Salter) 12 Writing Songs and Raising Babies (Smith, Aimee Mayo, Christopher Marsh Lindsey) 13 I Don’t Like The World Without You (Smith, Sampson & Verges) 14 The Great Pretender (Smith, Bob Di Piero & Joe Clemmons) Caitlyn Smith’s self-produced new album “High & Low” is released on April 14th through Monument Records and is available to pre-save/pre-add HERE. We are eagerly awaiting news of her return to the UK but if you happen to be Stateside, you can find dates and ticket information for her current “The Great Pretender Tour” on her WEBSITE and everyone can keep up to date with Caitlyn socially through INSTAGRAMTWITTER & FACEBOOK.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks