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Canaan Smith

Canaan Smith EP – 2015 (Mercury Nashville)

Reviewed by Bill Caruthers

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CDs by Canaan Smith

Virginia-native, Belmont educated, Canaan Smith was deemed as "One to Watch in 2012" after his debut single "We Got Us" charted that year. Still, it was nearly three years before his next single "Love You Like That" dropped this past summer. With more than 200,000 downloads, it went number 1 on Sirius XM, but fans have been forced to wait until now for an EP release.

The lead off, "Love You Like That" is a tale of a self-proclaimed "nitty-gritty boy" who wants to love his "girl" (her name, stated repeatedly) "slow like the Mississippi, strong like a fifth of whiskey" and "steady like a Tom Petty track." While well done, it doesn't really distinguish itself musically from any number of similar anthems.

A modern-day hook-up song, "Two Lane Road," follows in which he asks another "girl" to leave her "mama," "drama," "if you wanna?" and head down a two-lane road. This track is complete with six-syllable "roads," "goes," and "grows;" and a near obligatory rap in the middle.

"Mad Love" does the improbable teaming of a banjo and meme-speak like "haters gonna hate," with an unexpected, and possibly disingenuous, Johnny and June reference, to illustrate said "Mad Love." The most country effort here is "Hole in a Bottle" which even with its beat track, brings to mind the David Lee Murphy anthems from the mid-'90s. It's not traditional country, but it's close, and it shows Smith's capabilities. Other than the irritating opening refrain of "stuck" sang 10 times, "Stuck" is a slow, love song that is nearly country too.

Smith is young, handsome and talented (co-writing all these cuts with hit maker Brett Beavers and others) with all the tools to shine bright, but he runs the risk here of being lost in a carbon-copy crowd.