Today, we’re delighted to introduce our first ever ‘In the Round’ album review, where a number of the Belles and Gals team each pick a track from a selected album and tell us why it has struck a chord with them. The release of Caitlyn Smith’s ‘Starfire’ album was met with a collective ‘wow’ at Belles and Gals, so it became an obvious choice for the first ‘in the round’ review.
Tacoma – Liam Lewis (twitter.com/liam0324)
Tacoma stands as one of my favourite songs of all time, just a brief time after the album release. Originally penned for Garth Brooks, it is the perfect blend of smooth melody and striking vocals that can hit you right in the heart. Caitlyn Smith’s incredible vocal range and control evokes emotions I never knew I could feel. The smooth guitar that paces the track acts as the lead into the melodic and vocal journey of the songs protagonist, in which the listener feels as if they are following along with the journey. Caitlyn Smith is a true vocal and lyrical powerhouse, with lyrics such as “I’m burning your memory. One mile at a time.” Etching themselves into your mind straight from the first listen.
Scenes From A Corner Booth At Closing Time On A Tuesday – Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)
Let me begin by saying I’m really loving this entire album! The variety in the tracks demonstrate what a versatile vocalist/writer Caitlyn is and I love the production throughout. This particular slow/mid tempo song appealed to me immediately as I love writing that transports you, and with this one I am right there in that booth listening to the band and people watching. I really hope that this is an actual product of Caitlyn doing exactly that when researching for this write! It reminds me in some ways of the amazing “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega in that respect.
Helped right from the start by the use of recorded background noise from a bar (chatter and clinking glasses) there are some fantastic descriptions of the people she observes, lyrically this is definitely one of the albums gems in my opinion! Picking out just a few to whet your appetite, there’s “a fake ID with dirty blonde hair sipping on a Moscow Mule” and “a cellphone man … nothing in his glass but the rocks…” who’s clearly waiting for someone who eventually arrives wearing a “wedding ring that ain’t his…….her lipstick is guilty red”.
A collection of lonely people just like she is, Caitlyn ponders? She’s seen some of the people there before so its clearly a regular hang out for both her and others which adds to the mystery. There’s some atmospheric, reflective instrumentation and vocally/sonically I’m reminded of Sheryl Crow’s “ All I Wanna Do” in places.
Although this isn’t the most commercial or radio friendly album track (saying that, look how well the afore mentioned Tom’s Diner did!) I’d love to see this song and its characters brought to life in a video. There’s a challenge, Caitlyn!
Cheap Date – Katie Louise Ingram (twitter.com/xkatie19x)
They say leave the best till last and this is absolutely true for Caitlyn Smith’s debut album. This lyrical masterpiece of an album finishes perfectly on the beautifully written song “Cheap date”. At first listen this song captured my attention and instantly became my favourite from the record. Throughout the whole release it’s clear Caitlyn is a beautiful storyteller and this perfect piano based romantic ballad gives the singer the chance to show off her incredible vocal talent too. The song also provides the audience with a clear idea of the kind of person she is, emphasising she is more homely than a fancy wine and dine kind of lady, exampled by the lyrics “Put my little black dress away, cause I’m not really into the party downtown, I’m more about the right here right now”. This song is going to be an incredible track for anyone to witness live and am hoping us here in the UK will soon be able to get the chance to see this starlet perform for ourselves.
This Town is Killing Me – Nick Cantwell (twitter.com/nick_bellesgals)
‘This Town is Killing Me’ is a perfect but almost heartbreaking tale of the dream of making it in the music industry. The town referenced in the song is ‘Nashville’, but the song could apply to any town, or indeed, any scene in the music industry. Caitlyn sings about the sacrifices she has made in pursuing the dream of ‘making it’ – one particular reference will move you to tears, while throughout the song you’ll be wondering if those sacrifices were indeed worth the price paid. But ‘This Town is Killing Me’ is also about courage and conviction and knowing that the artist needs to give everything and more in pursuit of that dream.
‘Nashville you win, cos I’d wake up here tomorrow and do it all over again, even though you’re killing me…’ – the life of an artist summed up in one beautifully sad line.