ToC Critic’s Pick: Canaan Smith, ‘Bronco’
Canaan Smith’s debut album may be the most surprising release of 2015. He shows more confidence and diversity on Bronco than he has on anything released to radio. It’s an album that takes a moment to find a lane, but when it does, he drives it hard.
Smith has this sort of bad boy, R&B thing going for him for much of Bronco’s second half. The first three songs — including “Love You Like That” — are lyrically sound and personal, but sonically nondescript. With “Hole in a Bottle” he puts on the black leather jacket and breaks the mold.
“Stuck” is a delicate ballad before one of three standout tracks. “One of Those” is downright sexy. The arrangement is sugar to Smith’s cinnamon. A little electro-friendly effects on songs like “Two Lane Road” fit nicely later on (yes, that is him rapping), but the tonic is just right on this song, and especially on “Love at First."
"It was love at first sight, love at first sip / Love at first word coming off your lips / Love at first chance, and dance real close with the lights down low," Smith sings like he's Sam Hunt.
A straight-forward country-rocker called “American Muscle” and the vulnerable “Bronco” help close this fine debut effort. Smith lets loose, mixes and mostly contains his influences, steering them toward a definable sound that’s very personal and very believable. Like most great albums, there isn’t “something for everyone” on this album. But if you hope for something just edgier than “Love You Like That,” you’ll find a collection of songs to get you through summer.
Key Tracks: "One of Those," "Love at First," "American Muscle," "Bronco"
Did You Know?: The album's title track is about the fatal car accident his older brother Nathaniel was in. Smith says he's very much like his brother, and his death inspires him live in the moment.
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