ToC Critic’s Pick: Caitlyn Smith, ‘Starfire’ EP
Caitlyn Smith’s gift is storytelling, and her just-released Starfire EP is a master class on assigning one's self to life events absolutely. Her vocals are imperfectly perfect, with cracks that only show raw, genuine emotion.
“Tacoma” is the song most will talk about, if only because Garth Brooks cut it first and she’s releasing a music video for it soon. It’s a cathartic vocal showcase that seems to end at about 3:05. But instinctively, you sense Smith is about to deliver something big as the silence grows to two, three and then five seconds. At the last possible moment she emerges with a soaring final chorus. The event marks the halfway point of Starfire, with the remaining two songs turning sharply inward.
Visit “Do You Think About Me” to find her at her best, however. An almost spoken first verse stylizes the song before she begins to work the scale and range of emotions. The heartbreaker is based on a good friend’s story, but Smith dives in to his pain without taking her shoes off.
The album closes with “This Town Is Killing Me,” a song that may bore non-Music City insiders but simply captivates those in the biz. It was written about her struggles in Nashville, and how she keeps waking up to work despite the obstacles an singer-songwriter (especially a female singer-songwriter) faces.
With just five songs, the Starfire EP is able carry a focused message and sound while teasing what’s to come from the rest of the album when it’s released after the very pregnant songstress delivers her baby later this summer.
Key Tracks: “Do You Think About Me,” “This Town Is Killing Me"
The Best Country Albums of 2016 (So Far)