Dallas Smith On Delivering His Blend Of Modern & Traditional Country Music: 'I’m Constantly A Work In Progress'

3 November 2023 | 10:52 am | Claire Dunton

“I’m not afraid to show different sides of me now.”

Dallas Smith

Dallas Smith (Credit: David McClister)

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Canadian-born Dallas Smith is every bit the country star you imagine, amassing 18 gold-certified singles, seven platinum-certified singles, and four gold-certified records, with more than 520 million global streams and over two million record equivalents to date. 

Firmly entrenched as Canadian country royalty, Smith's self-titled record will be the first full-length release with Big Loud Records after signing in 2021, making the Dallas Smith record his US debut. 

The writing credits include a star-studded line-up, including label-mates Morgan Wallen, HARDY, ERNEST and Mackenzie Porter, and heavy-hitters Hillary Lindsey, Cole Swindell and Ashley Porter, with the record produced by longtime collaborator and producer Joey Moi.

Smith has been making music for more than twenty years, as the former frontman to platinum-selling rock band Default, and named Entertainer of the Year three times by CCMA (Canadian Country Music Association), but possesses the ambition and excitement of a newcomer, thirsty to put music out there that resonates with his growing fan base. 

“I've been releasing records since 2001 in one way, shape, or form. It’s my fifth [record] as a solo artist in the Country world, and it just doesn't get old. It’s quite a privilege. If you don’t get that [excitement], then it’s time to move on and move out of the way for someone else to enjoy it. I’m not going anywhere.”

In the lead-up to the Dallas Smith record release on October 27, Fixer Up, a progressive country anthem and traditional country-inspired CRZY were released early. Both tracks tackle the raw and difficult relationship hurdles, and despite the delicacy of these tracks and their message, they each have a fresh sound and unforgettable lyrics that may earn Smith an extra couple of gold-certified singles. 

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Fixer Upper and CRZY are at two opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of what I do. [When recording CRZY] It was important to have those traditional influences on me represented in song and production and the instruments used. The rest of the record flows with everything in between.”

“With Fixer Upper, I really gravitated towards this song because it represents kind of how I look at myself. I’m a little bit older now, but I’m constantly a work in progress, always trying to improve who I am and what I bring to the table. Who I am as a father, a husband, a friend… that song was really easy to connect with. I think it can really speak to a lot of people. I’m not sure why this song was never recorded, but I feel quite fortunate that they didn’t. Once this got played for me, I was like - I got to have this song. It speaks to me, and it’s such a wonderfully written song.”

The 12-track record explores a spectrum of feelings and experiences, which feels natural for Dallas, who has been working to bring diversity and duality to all his projects, which he says has gotten easier with maturity and perspective.

“As a kid, my favourite records were the ones where no matter what mood you were in or what you needed to get from music - you could go to them. I focused on making sure this record had all that. The old records were a lot more single-topic, angsty tracks. As you mature, hopefully, you open your eyes up to more positivity and what the world has to offer. Different topics come flowing out of you. I’m not afraid to show different sides of me now.”

In fact, fans were treated to a different side of Smith with a glimpse into Smith’s personal world, with his family featured in the Fixer Upper video.

“I don’t mind sharing bits and pieces of my family life. I actually had a song a bunch of years ago called Sky Stays This Blue, and my daughter [who featured in the video] was maybe four years old, and it was great to have, like, a very expensive home video and a neat snapshot of where we were as a family at that moment. You get a little window into what life was at the moment.”

When Smith talks about Big Loud, Joey Moi and fellow artists whom he has collaborated with on the Dallas Smith record, you get the sense that these incredible opportunities and relationships are the sum of Smith’s admiration for fellow country artists and his musical evolution over his 20-year career. When asked Smith’s favourite track on the record, he hesitates, noting that it will likely change over the years as it has with his previous records.

The Use Me track is currently on the top of his list, and he acknowledges that it may be because it “barely made the record”, finding its way on the cutting room floor on more than one occasion. Smith fought for the track, and when the mixes came back, he was vindicated, taking pride of place as track one. This kind of collaboration and advocacy exemplifies Smith’s relationship with Big Loud.

“I’ve always had support in the Big Loud building, as far as trust. I've been in the business for quite a while now, and I feel like I know who I am as an artist, and they have that trust in me, which feels great. It’s important for me to have these songs come out in a way where I am connected to them, speak to me, and I can give a voice to these songs that come from my organic experience.”

When asked if an Australian tour was on the horizon, Smith laughed, adding that he was hoping there would be. With Smith and Makenzie performing in the Holiday Train Christmas benefit at the end of the year, he mused that he would be happy to trade a Canadian Christmas for an Australian one. 

“We might need to start building that train track now.”

Dallas Smith is out now via Big Loud Records.