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Corey Smith delivers enthusiastically in Texas

Fitzwilly’s, College Station, Texas, February 9, 2009

Reviewed by Michael Sudhalter

Corey Smith delivers a sharp criticism of modern country music, in which he takes shots at Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney for shaping what he believes has become a cookie cutter industry in the song If That's Country. Ironically, country - and even pop country - appear to be among the influences in the Jefferson, Ga. native's eclectic brand of independent music.

Playing the university town of College Station for the second time ever (Smith is generally popular in college towns in the Southeast), Smith and his two piece band - a guitarist and a drummer - played a two hour set full of party songs, ballads and anti-establishment songs. Wearing a Led Zeppelin T-Shirt and pair of sun glasses, Smith paused during his popular spring break anthem - If I Could Do It Again to call his set the "best two hours of his day." The crowd was receptive, knowing most of the lyrics and singing along for much of the show.

The former high school teacher got bluesy with songs like In The Mood and even showed his ability to bust a rhyme in the middle of a tune on several occasions, most notably during Drinking Again.

He's the rare artist that can draw comparisons to both Eminem and James Taylor - in the same song. Smith showed a more sensitive side with songs like Something To Lose, Harmony, Carolina, "The Good Life, A Long Way To Go, It's Over and especially, Twenty-One - a song about wanting to reach 21 and then, missing it later on.

Smith, who has four albums under his belt, also stepped away from his own group of songs to play an impressive instrumental medley of Don't Stop Believin', Livin' On A Prayer, Play That Funky Music and Billy Jean.

Then, he performed a faster version of Rehab's Sittin' At A Bar - which was nice to see. It's rare to see an independent artist cover a song that was so popular just months ago. But Smith did the song justice with his twist on it.

Unfortunately, the encore yielded just one song - the ballad In Love With A Memory, and several Smith songs - most notably, Every Dawg about the saga of the University of Georgia football team and When The Sun Goes Down in Georgia were missing from the set. Perhaps, he didn't want to play songs that may have had a regional appeal.

But Smith's act would fit into the larger Texas Music scene, so it's no surprise that his combination of country, blues, folk, R&B, rock and rap went over well in the Lone Star State.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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