Review Summary: A star begins to shine a little brighter.
Caitlyn Smith has the sort of booming voice that can fill an entire studio. Supernova
showcases that skill set to its full potential, sending her voice flying all over the spectrum in what might only be described as vocal-centric country album. Her approach is actually fairly similar to other country mega-stars like Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert – the songs aren’t about the instruments or even building an atmosphere so much as they are about conveying love, pain, and passion in dramatic fashion. Supernova
accomplishes all of this with flying colors – a swirling, melodic country record with massive choruses and shimmering pop production.
Smith cites Supernova
as the ideal title for the record because it is “the fullest expression of a star”, and each song represents a heightened state of human emotion – be it love, heartache, or fear. This approach works better in smaller portions than it does across an entire forty-four minute run time; to hear the crashing cymbals, thunderous drums, and booming choruses of ‘Long Time Coming’ or ‘Damn You For Breaking My Heart’ – on, say, the radio – has a major impact. However, by the time you’re halfway through the album, these massive crescendos become a little too easy to dismiss as overwrought or even feigned. Smith is actually at her best when she pumps the brakes, such as on the string-laden, starry-eyed title track or the piano-underscored and incredibly romantic closer (which she actually wrote at 39 weeks pregnant), ‘Lonely Together.’ When she exposes her vulnerable side, Supernova
shines its brightest. Perhaps no track illustrates this better than 'Midnight in New York City' - where she delivers her best vocal performance, includes a brief but effective guitar solo, and captures lighting in a bottle lyrically: "Lovers under movie scene streetlights / Kissing each other like he's coming home from war...You make me feel like I'm on fire, skyscraper lights keep getting brighter / The night is young and I'm good and stoned, it's midnight in New York City and we can't go home."
Caitlyn Smith’s sophomore album isn’t daring enough to uncover any new earth, but it’s quite adept at its role within the mainstream country wheelhouse. She possesses a gorgeous voice, jaw-dropping range, and has the ability to craft inviting hooks to boot. It’s a deadly combination that’s sure to earn her a seat at the table of country’s biggest stars. While it would be nice to see her put a little more emphasis on actual instrumental song craft and/or electronic/synth experimentation – and she could easily do these things without being forced to fade her vocal presence – this is still a very good country-pop record that is widely accessible for the masses. Sometimes music just needs a voice – and with Supernova
, Smith has found hers.