About to make a few thousand more friends
For Corey Smith, one of the best things about making music has always been getting the chance to hang out and have a good time with his friends. And it’s still that way, nearly 10 years after his early days of playing the bars around Athens, Georgia. The big difference now? Well, it seems these days Corey just has a lot more friends to hang with. The crowds at his sold-out live performances frequently number in the thousands—quite a change from the times when he never dreamed of much beyond playing for a handful of his college buddies. But, thanks to his astonishing gift for crafting addictive, soulful songs and the high-energy reputation of his shows, Corey Smith is one of modern country’s hottest young artists, a quintessentially indie performer with a dedicated following most Nashville-fueled hat racks would trade their flashy limos for. Not that he’s gotten carried away by all of the adoration, though.
“To me success is a matter of staying focused on songwriting and continuing to mature artistically,” says Corey. “I try not to think about the popularity.”
Be thankful for what you have and make the most of it. It’s a lesson Corey learned growing up in the same modest, rural Georgia community that he and his family live in today. And it’s also the theme behind the title track to his typically outstanding new album Keeping Up with the Joneses, which he co-produced with Russ-T Cobb (Butch Walker, Avril Lavigne). Like much of his previous work, Corey admits, the poignant title tune’s subject matter is autobiographical. “[The song] has a lot of literal truths in it and traces a story, so fans of my earlier stuff will find some common ground there,” Corey says. “But there is also a lot beneath the surface that goes a long way toward explaining the values that make me who I am.”
Keeping Up with the Joneses is the sixth release on Corey’s own Undertone Records label and has a more radio-ready sound than his earlier discs, most of which center on his foundation as a solo acoustic performer. “Some fans might find [the bigger production] challenging at first,” says Corey. “But I wanted to explore new possibilities on this album, to build out my vision of the songs and give them a larger life. I am very happy with the results.”
As always, however, job one is having honest songs with universal resonance. “‘Arc of a Rainbow’ is probably the most poetic song I’ve written,” says Corey of one of the record’s more introspective cuts. “It’s about finding hope through love, about overcoming fear.”
Yet as much as the 32-year-old father of two has matured in recent years, Keeping Up with the Joneses bears the singer-songwriter’s trademark brand of revelry. The album, which features his road-tested rhythm section of bassist Rob Henson and drummer Marcus Petruska, houses several new additions to Corey’s catalogue of festive sing-a-longs; check the suggestive “Dirtier by the Year,” the tell-tale “$8 Bottle of Wine,”and the last-call anthem “Sweet Sorrow.”
Besides the quality of his music, though, a huge part of Corey’s success has been the wildfire-like viral chatter of his rabidly file-sharing fans—which flatters him to no end. “I want my music to be heard by as many people as possible,” he says. “So I’m just grateful that people are out there spreading it around. It’s what’s made my career possible.”
An ever-exploding fan base and a stunning new collection of songs? It all means one thing: Corey Smith is about to make a few thousand more friends.
"8$ Bottle Of Wine"
"If I Could Do It Again"
"The Baseball Song"
"F*** The Po-Po"
"Maybe Next Year"
"Let Me Love You On a Back Road"