Dallas Smith is a Canadian singer starting to make big waves on the Country music scene in the US. Primarily known as the lead singer in alternative rock band Default, who achieved eleven Top 10 hits on the Canadian rock charts from 2001 – 2010, he is making the most of an extended break that he and his band-mates are taking to explore new projects. Smith released his début Country album ‘Jumped Right In’ back in May 2012, which yielded sales of over 100,000 digital singles and earned a nomination for Country Album of the Year at the 2013 Juno Awards (the singer also picked up three nominations at the 2013 Canadian Country Music Awards).
This was followed up with the release of Smith’s ‘Tippin’ Point’ EP in March of this year, his first offering on Republic Nashville. The barnstorming title track, co-written by Brian Kelley & Tyler Hubbard from Florida Georgia Line, became a platinum-certified smash in Canada and really started to get Smith noticed in the neighbouring USA. This week sees the release of a new seven track EP ‘Lifted’, which looks set to further enhance the reputation of the British Columbia native.
Lead single, ‘Wastin’ Gas’ was released at the end of October and is building on the momentum achieved from ‘Tippin’ Point’. Smith makes no attempt to hide his rock roots, with big throaty electric guitar chords driving the track along, bouyed by banjo licks. A tale of young & carefree love ‘Wastin’ Gas’ is an absolute delight, distilling countless youthful summers into a three-minute utterly infectious Country-rock song. The singer obviously has a great ear for the catchiest hooks, a fact proved throughout the EP, and a highly-appealing twangy delivery to his nimble vocals.
‘Cheap Seats’ continues the theme of making the most of those youthful summer months and offering proof that you don’t need to money to be happy. A cracking electric guitar solo aside, the production is scaled back giving Smith the opportunity to clearly deliver the story of the lyrics. The heavily repeated ‘whoa-oh-oh’ refrain of the background vocals is surprisingly effective, giving the track its own unique & memorable sound. Title track ‘Lifted’ boasts a big, uplifting chorus but is equally enjoyable in its softer verses featuring just the singer and an acoustic guitar over the percussion bed. The transition to that storming chorus no doubt signifying the soaring emotion described in the song, a neat touch.
The sultry ‘Heat Rises’ raises the temperature in the perfect way, slowing down the tempo but lifting the intensity. Every fire and flame lyric device is seemingly employed in the track, but you know what…it works. Featuring particularly pleasing piano and steel guitar fills, it also affords Smith another chance to show off that admirable vocal dexterity during a thorough work-out. As previously mentioned, creating a hugely likeable earworm of a chorus is a skill that seemingly comes easy to the Canadian singer and ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’ is a high-energy, breathless number. The lyrics tear though a list of things that the singer may be doing, throughout all of which his mind is completely pre-occupied. Repeated listens enhance the enjoyment of the track and reveal a new activity on that list each time!
The final new track ‘Say When’ competes with the superb ‘Wastin’ Gas’ to be the strongest track on the EP, a fabulous mid-tempo track with a mesmerising acoustic guitar and banjo riff flowing throughout. The big rock guitars are also in force, as are the feel-good, rapid-fire lyrics sung expertly by Smith. Surely a contender for the next single release with its vivid picture-painting of the discovery of a new love and a killer hook. To close the EP Smith has included a live version of smash hit ‘Tippin’ Point’, which gives fans a chance to hear a stripped-down version of the song. The response of the crowd on the track sums up the excitement that the singer manages to generate performing what is usually a big-production number. A cracking bonus track.
The Country of Dallas Smith comes with a hefty dose of rock (what else would you expect?) but it also comes with an incredible energy and a wholly successful attempt to show you a good time. ‘Lifted’ is a thrillingly listenable EP, no sooner has it finished than you want another fix. It proves that the transition from a Canadian rock star, to a Canadian country star, to a fixture on the American country charts is a real possibility. The sheer uplifting nature of the tracks here and their snapshots of the best moments in life means they pass by all too soon. Thankfully you can hit replay and be ‘Lifted’ once again…
much gentler verses