Caitlyn Smith - High & Low
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High & Low (Monument/Sony, 2023)

Caitlyn Smith

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

The title track to this Caitlyn Smith album was co-written with Miley Cyrus, one that likely knows a thing or two about getting high. However, this is not a drug song (at least not intentionally so), but one that explores the ups and downs of life instead. In fact, Smith had initially considered breaking the album down into high and low song sections. Ultimately, she just mixed it all together. Smith, known by many mostly as a successful Nashville songwriter, presents herself as an especially strong vocalist on this rewarding long player.

Since it is, after all, country music, there are more low moments than high ones filling out this song selection. There are even two state-named songs, too, "Alaska" and "Mississippi," which are two states that probably couldn't be more different from each other. "Good As Us" is one of the higher songs included and finds Smith traveling the world and feeling happy about her relationship. "Downtown Baby" is a brighter track. Country does an especially good job with songs about downtown. Maybe this is because the lights just seem so much brighter when you're raised in a rural region. Smith sings it like she's a Southern Petula Clark.

The acoustic guitar introduced "Maybe In Another Life" is one of the project's clear downers. How hopeless does a couple need to be, to wish for a better relationship in another life? Smith closes the album with the lowness hiding "The Great Pretender," where she forces herself to obscure her sad demeaner in public. On just a sonic level, it's impossible not to appreciate Smith's smokey, jazzy singing on the autobiographical "Writing Songs and Raising Babies."

Musically, however, much of this album can come off a tad too glossy at times. Even so, Caitlyn Smith is a master songwriter, so we can forgive the occasional over-shininess. She did produce it herself, so maybe an outside production voice with more country music ideas would have made it rootsier. Even so, this album is one smart meditation on the wide range of human emotions.

CDs by Caitlyn Smith

High & Low, 2023 Supernova, 2020

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