Smithfield’s New EP Shaped by Life, Let Downs and One Long Radio Tour
The title track to Smithfield's We Make Our Own EP is a personal anthem for the country duo. It's a pop-country mix pinned by banjo and a furious drum beat that announces that Trey Smith and Jennifer Fielder are done chasing, but they're still listening.
The pair of longtime friends moved from Waxahachie, Texas, to Nashville nearly a decade ago and suffered through lost or flimsy record deals, bad day jobs, sporadic writing sessions — you know, new artist stuff. Two years into their journey they reached a breaking point. A promised record deal fell through and both realized the door to trying something else was wide open. A move back to Waxahachie (near Dallas) was cheap and easy.
"At that moment, being completely honest," Smith tells Taste of Country, "the thought that ran through my head was, 'Well we could still go back home at this point and we've only been here for two years. We haven't spent that much time here. We don't have any debts or anything to settle here. We could literally go back home right now. Wipe it off the map, pretend it didn't happen. But we decided to stay, we decided to fight, fully immerse ourselves and this is it."
That's what "We Make Our Own" is about, Fielder says. It's about a moment when you stop chasing and start creating music that's honest. For Smithfield, that manifested across seven songs (including their new single, "Our World") on the EP — a project that prioritizes balance and authenticity. They want to have success at radio and learned how to get it during an exhaustive eight-month radio tour in 2018. Not every song on an album needs to be made for radio, and it's OK to be a little selfish.
"As a younger artist, you feel the pressure to stay in your lane of country music," Smith says. "It has to fit this certain mold. I think as you continue to create, and as you continue to make music, you figure out that I need to do what comes naturally to me."
As you stream the EP, focus on three personal tracks. A steely ballad called "Still a Few" takes Smith back to days spent with his grandfather. "Me No You" — a banjo driven vocal showcase for both singers — sounds like a love song, something Fielder recognizes and maybe even intended.
"But for me," she says, "I wanted to do country music since I was nine years old. I love it so much, it’s my whole world and my whole life and I wouldn’t be able to do that without Trey. I wouldn’t be able to have my dreams without him. That song to me is like … this is what I would be like without you."
Tour dates, including a stop at Country Jam in Grand Junction, Colo., this June, will keep the "Hey Whiskey" singers busy, but they'll continue to be strategic about working songs to radio now that they've introduced themselves to more than 100 programmers. That's not a make-it-or-break-it proposition any longer. If not "Our World," then maybe the next one, or the one after that, or after that. In the real world, that's called "making it."
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