Country music might typically be associated with the good ole US of A, but Canada has its own bustling country music community, which acts like a mini Nashville and produces some quality acts you might never hear on US radio. The Canadian Country Spotlight, brought to you by our own Markus Meyer of Victoria, B.C., gives insight into what Canada has to offer.
Dallas Smith, former frontman of rock band Default, has risen to prominence in Canadian country these last few years. Ever since his 2012 hit “Jumped Right In,” he’s established himself as one of the biggest stars in Canada with his brand of country-rock. He even signed with an American label in 2013, though he has yet to officially release a single over there. This year, he even scored a platinum single with (somewhat horrendous) smash hit “Tippin’ Point.” No, most of his material isn’t deep or song of the year worthy, but it is entertaining nonetheless. Here are some essential tracks from the Dallas Smith catalog:
“Jumped Right In” (from Jumped Right In)
Perhaps his signature song, “Jumped Right In” is a fine single. Yes, the chorus is overproduced, but the vividly detailed lyrics and passionate delivery more than make up for it. It’s the little things that also put this one over the top. The pre-chorus hook of “come on, come on, come on, come on” is ridiculously catchy, and the fact that the lyrics make up the relationship between the characters to be more of a memorable moment than a sexual one, something that many of today’s mainstream hits fail to do.
“Slow Rollin'” (from Tippin’ Point EP)
Is “Slow Rollin'” a masterpiece? No, it really isn’t. But it is a very enjoyable summer song that makes you want to sing along with it, without being obnoxious or cliched. The lyrics flow nicely and the melody is similar to some of Keith Urban’s summertime work (someone to whom he looks up to). The guitar driven production is surprisingly restrained which is pleasant and Smith sounds fully invested. Like I said, this won’t win any awards or anything, but it’s entertaining which is enough for me.
“A Girl Like You” (from Tippin’ Point EP)
I went in expecting a monstrosity, and came out surprised at the fact that I actually love this one. The third single from his Tippin’ Point EP, “A Girl Like You” isn’t deep, but it is well-written and features some clever lines. It’s not degrading the woman in the song, it’s talking about the narrator appreciating the fact that they have so much in common with each other. Combine that with the solid tempo change throughout (I dig tempo changes), a catchy melody and a restrained production, and you have one very enjoyable package.
“What Kinda Love” (from Jumped Right In)
Smith’s rock influences are on full display on his 2013 hit “What Kinda Love.” The production is fully on the rock side of the country-rock spectrum, though still enjoyable. “What Kinda Love” is a clever tune about different kind of loves, built around a title hook of “I’d like to know what kinda love this one’s gonna be.” Smith is, once again, fully invested in the lyric and despite the loud-ish production, his vocal prowess is on full display. I didn’t love this one at first (no pun intended) but it has grown on me to become one my favorites from Dallas.
“This Town Ain’t a Town” (from Tippin’ Point EP)
Probably the deepest song off the EP, “This Town Ain’t a Town” is centered around the theme of the narrator’s hometown not being the same since she left. It’s a solid, catchy hook that is both memorable and interesting. The guitar driven melody (which is reminiscent to that of Eli Young Band’s current top-20 hit “Dust”) helps drive home the passion in the song, as does Smith’s vocal, which once again shines even behind a rock edged production. It’s a fantastic song.