This week, Caitlyn Smith will release the entirety of the project – High & Low – that kicked off with the release of High – the first half of that record in 2022.
Caitlyn Smith continues to astonish and impress with every new release that continues to paint the finer details of herself as an artist and human. Now, she has released High & Low, a new 14 track album – 8 songs of which, were taken from 2022’s High. These six new tracks fill in – literally and metaphorically – the gaps left by High, as a standalone project, blending authentic and raw songwriting with her signature vocal and genre-defying sound that straddles bluegrass, soul, country and pop.
The first new song on the record ‘Lately’ showcases the raw power of Smith’s vocal – a lush piano ballad about a lover being constantly on her mind. ‘Lately, I’ve been walking circles around my neighbourhood and reading Doestoevsky… you’ve been on my mind, lately.’ It’s a rare songwriter that can name drop Russian writers to Beethoven and not seem trite or pretentious. Instead, ‘Lately’ is a raw track, filled with longing, that builds to a huge crescendo, letting her vocal roar in a throaty ballad that threatens the likes of Alicia Keys and Adele for raw power.
Elsewhere, Smith knows where to rein that power in a notch. On ‘Mississippi’, she longs for home in a plucky acoustic driven track, pining over an ex lover – Mississippi itself – ‘am I still your favourite memory?’ do you ever miss me? It’s been a while, but you’re always on my mind / Sometimes it hits me, like a burning whiskey / That I’ll never really ever say goodbye / To you Mississippi.’ Here, she is accompanied by a male vocalist who nicely rounds out the track.
An easy standout from the record is ‘Alaska’ that packs the same emotional punch as pre-released later track ‘Maybe In Another Life,’ as she muses on the disconnection in a long-term relationship. ‘When you look at me, boy, you might as well be in Alaska.’ It’s a huge, heart-wrenching ballad that is brimming with raw emotion that breaks through in her vocal. A true masterclass in songwriting that is carried through on later track ‘I Think Of You,’ a sparse track about loneliness, loss and the breakdown of a relationship. ‘You knew, it was all going to come down crashing, still trying to figure out what the hell happened.‘ Smith is capable of packing more emotion into her vocals than near any other artist, and this track is no exception.
On the final two new tracks, ‘Writing Songs and Raising Babies’ and ‘The Great Pretender,’ you get further insight into who Smith is as a human. Firstly, as a mother, in this plucky, jauntier and jazzier track that paints a real picture of ‘a beautiful life’ albeit one that sometimes is a ‘circus’ or a ‘shitshow.’ It’s authentic and the anthem made for any parents. Finally, on ‘The Great Pretender,’ a bluegrass hued, plucky track, Smith sings about hiding her emotions under a smile, while nearly succumbing to anxiety. ‘Nobody knows I’m crying in a bathroom stall.‘ It’s relatable and honest, making it one of the more charming songs on the record.
Over the course of her career, Smith has earned a slew of awards as a songwriter, but one listen to this record is proof of just how worthy she is of those accolades. This record is flawless, both vocally but lyrically, one that deserves to be listened to on repeat, to appreciate each line for the polished, raw jewel that it possesses. What a wonder of an artist is Caitlyn Smith.