Conner Smith: ‘Smoky Mountains’ – Debut Album Review

Conner Smith releases his debut album, Smoky Mountains, out now, January 26th on all streaming platforms. Listen to the brand new project here.

With a soulful voice and storytelling prowess far beyond his 23 years, Conner Smith’s debut album, Smoky Mountains, is sure to propel him to superstardom. With a mountain-infused type of 90’s-leaning modern country that pairs his old-soul drawl with a new-school lyrical breadth, Smith crafted his Valory Music debut alongside Nashville hitmakers like Zach Crowell, Ryan Hurd, Jessi Alexander, Devin Dawson, and more.

As a songwriter for over fifteen years, the Nashville native admits that every year of his life truly contributed to this record. “It very much took 23 years to make these 12 songs,” Smith says. “I felt like I found my own lane I was able to drive down, and I’m really proud of what it has become. There’s not a wasted second on the record – every song matters. And I think it really shows all the different things that make me ‘me’ – as a songwriter, a vocalist and as a performer.” 

The album opens with the groove-laden titular track, as he opens the album growling, “Sing me a song of the smoky mountains and I’ll be home by the sun.” Here, he sets the tone for the project with a bluesy and gritty intro that’s ripe with fiddle and steel before leading directly into his breakout moment, “Creek Will Rise.” On the song, he combines bluegrass-tinged instrumentation with an uber catchy melody that’s rapidly climbing the charts. “With respect to true-hearted bluegrass fans, that sound really inspired me in this season of my artistry,” he explains of the tune. “I’ve been trying to discover what I wanted to say for the last five years since I signed a record deal, and now that I’m able to present that with this album. It might surprise some people on where it landed.”

For Smith, who co-wrote all but one of the album’s twelve tracks, the viral “I Hate Alabama,” his debut collection represents a labor of love. The tracks reflect that love, weaving its way in different forms through tracks like the “will they or won’t they?” “Roulette on the Heart,” the flirty “Trouble,” and  the ode to small town upbringing in the form of “Boots in the Bleachers.” Smith is also introspective on his desire to be more than a one night stand on “Regret in the Morning,” while he’s celebrating enjoying the simpler things on “Take It Slow.”

Smith enlists rising star Hailey Whitters to join him on “Roulette On The Heart,” a ballad about the push and pull of a possible relationship. “I wanted to keep the magic of that song intact,” He shares of enlisting Whitters. “And I love where it landed.” “Are you gonna break me? Are you gonna save me?” They sing over the simple and sparse instrumentation. “Every night with you is a shot in the dark… Holding somebody shouldn’t be this hard.”

“Meanwhile in Carolina” is another clear standout, beautifully telling the tale of two people living concurrent lives, unaware that fate will eventually bring them together. Inspired by Smith’s relationship with his now fiance, the song tells the story of their lives until they found each other, wondering if their other halves were out there. “You always imagine that person, you always think about ’em, wonder where they are, wonder what they’re doing,” he shares. “I was so proud of that song after we wrote it, because I knew it was one that mattered – it was a song that meant something.”

Another clear stand out is “Heatin’ Up,” which is a punchy and driving single-ready uptempo that is sure to set live shows ablaze. Here, Smith singsongs over the catch chorus that “Everything about this love is heatin’ up.”

Likewise, “I Hate Alabama” is sure to be a crowd pleaser, initially going viral on TikTok and launching Smith to his record deal. It’s a clever twist on regional dislike, as the Nashville native muses over his disdain for the “Roll Tide” state.

“I hate Alabama // I hate Crimson Red // And I hate how they yell “Roll Tide” // When I got a Braves hat on my head // And I love Lynyrd Skynyrd // But Lord I hate Sweet Home,” He sings. “’Cause when I hear it all I see Is a girl with houndstooth on // In the stands in Tuscaloosa // Might’ve lost by 22 // But I hate Alabama // ‘Cause that’s where I lost you.”

The album concludes with the stirring “God Moments,” which finds the singer-songwriter reflecting on the ways in which “God works in mysterious ways.” It’s akin in many ways to “Unanswered Prayers,” finding Smith accepting that there’s a bigger plan at work in his life than he could even imagine or understand.

On Smoky Mountains, Conner Smith establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with in the genre. With his husky growl and introspective lyrics, the debut is only the beginning of things “Heatin’ Up” for the singer-songwriter.

Smoky Mountains Tracklist:

  1. Smoky Mountains | Conner Smith, Zach Crowell
  2. Creek Will Rise | Conner Smith, Chris LaCorte, Chase McGill, Parker Welling
  3. Roulette On The Heart (featuring Hailey Whitters) | Conner Smith, Jessi Alexander, Chase McGill, Mark Trussell
  4. Heatin’ Up | Conner Smith, Chase McGill, Daniel Ross
  5. Baby, I | Conner Smith, Devin Dawson, Mark Trussell, Parker Welling
  6. Meanwhile In Carolina | Conner Smith, Blake Pendergrass
  7. Boots In The Bleachers | Conner Smith, Ben Hayslip, Jordan Walker
  8. Take It Slow | Conner Smith, Ryan Hurd, Mark Trussell
  9. Trouble | Conner Smith, Zach Crowell, Jerry Flowers, Chase McGill, Mark Trussell
  10. I Hate Alabama | Nick Columbia, Drew Green, Hunter Phelps, Lee Starr
  11. Regret In The Morning | Conner Smith, Hunter Phelps, Daniel Ross
  12. God Moments | Conner Smith, Zach Crowell, Devin Dawson, Blake Pendergrass

Country Swag Picks:

  1. Meanwhile in Carolina
  2. Heatin’ Up
  3. Creek Will Rise
  4. Smoky Mountains
  5. I Hate Alabama

Conner Smith shares his debut album, ‘Smoky Mountains,” out now on all streaming platforms.

Fans can join our Weekly Round-Up e-newsletter here, for the latest in country music and more news about future Conner Smith releases.

For tour dates and more, visit the singer-songwriter’s website here. 

To keep up with Conner Smith, follow him on Instagram, TwitterTikTok, and Facebook.

Smoky Mountains is available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.