There is a reason Dallas Smith has ten Top 10 hits, why Keith Urban asked him to join his last Canadian tour, and why Smith has maintained the top spot in Country for more than 10 years — the voice! The writing. The musicianship. Smith has the complete package and his newest offering Side Effects solidifies this top spot yet again.
Side Effects is a full length album full of love and lust, heartache and loss, life, and fun on a Friday night without the cliche bro-country bon fires and red solo cups. There’s a pick up truck or two but Smith puts his own spin on it to keep things fresh. This album also hearkens back to a time when albums actually ‘sounded’ great in an auditory way. Flawless stereo, high and low tones in perfect balance, impeccable vocals – do yourself a favour and listen to this on a good set of headphones/earbuds. It will blow you away as much as it did me.
Only One You starts the album out strong with a great love song – comparing “a thousand sunsets and damn they were beautiful…. can’t count the times I’ve been awe struck, taken back,” to the love of his life and how “none of that baby even comes close to you.” Catchy, strong lyrics and not sappy in the least, you easily find yourself singing the chorus in short order.
Sparks fly with title track Side Effects as the singer speaks about being addicted to the steamy relationship despite parting ways, “your lips should come with a warning, your touch should have a red light, but I still want it every night.” Another catchy tune with a darker tune than previous song, suits the mood of the lyrics to perfection.
Sky Stays This Blue a song of wishing the best to your lover (past or present? Both). “When you love somebody, it’s more than just surface, you fly when they’re flying, you hurt when they hurt.” This is a grown up love, a maturity of relationship.
Tab With My Name on It carries us into heartache putting us squarely into the shoes of the guy sitting at the bar drowning his sorrows.. after numerous drinks, a failed pick up with a girl who ‘looks like you’, and the realization he’s lost his love, all he’s got is a bar tab, with his name on it. A very modern day take on an old fashioned country song theme that sounds great.
Autograph is the current favourite of most of Smith’s fans (if one goes by the comments on Twitter), and Smith even brought his wife Kirsten up on stage at the last Keith Urban show, to slow dance with him as he sang it to her. It has a very vintage feel to it, reminiscing about beauty queens, football stars – high school. The guy worshipping the girl from afar, dreaming about changing her ‘autograph’ to have his name on it and how he’d be the lucky one ‘with heaven on my arm‘ if he could make it come true. The true romance story!
My personal favourite (even after listening to the entire album a few times) is 50/50. “Sometimes in love you gotta go a little more than half way…. some days you rain on the days she shines.” Smith’s voice is perfection; the way the music stops while he finishes the bridge a cappella is just so good. The backing vocals of his band fit into this song smoothly as well, giving it a multi layered texture that’s ear pleasing.
Kids with Cars kicks it into overdrive (no pun intended) with a bit of a boppy pop/rock vibe that makes you want to get off your ass and move your body to the beat. The lyrics (as most of this album) are catchy as hell.. and despite this being about cars, this aint no bro country song. This song brings you back to the first car you ever owned (mine was a Dodge Cricket with a cracked block purchased for $50 bucks!). Makes you want to get the wax out and shine up that muscle car in the driveway.
Might as well toss another car/truck song in there – Hoods and Tailgates is fun, snappy and adds an element of first love, first date, first sex, first baby and life in general.. “all the beers drank on ’em, all the stars counted on ’em, first kisses and friday nights.. all the babies made on ’em…. a lot of life gets lived and a lot of love gets made between the hoods and tailgates.” Anyone; any gender, any age group can relate to this song and that’s the great appeal to Smith’s music.
One Little Kiss- every time I hear this song, I can see the video in my mind’s eye.. the guy standing on the edge of the cliff about to swan dive into his lover’s arms and she’s not really there.. this song is going to mean something different to anyone who listens to it, and each time I listen to it, it changes for me.
I’m Already Gone didn’t really speak to me as much as the other songs, but there always has to be one song that is thus.. it does evoke road trips and open spaces, convertibles and desert. I leave it up to you to determine the rest.
Sleepin’ Around is cleverly written and sung… it’s an admission of guilt, but not what you think. “I confess I’ve been sleeping around… this old house down on the floor, out on the couch, tv on, checking my phone… I’ve been sleeping around… 2hrs a night, out in my truck too drunk to drive.” Love this song, and Smith’s vocals and the production are deep and mellow.
Twelve Pack Soundtrack classic guy loses girl, wants her back, commiserates in his beer (or 12). Not sad, not sappy – thoroughly enjoyable despite the guy drowning his sorrows. Coincidence that this is song number 12?
With catchy tunes and hooky lyrics, Side Effects is a 12 pack soundtrack that has something for everyone. Three of the songs have already been released as singles, and more to follow I’m sure.. rumours of ‘album of the year’ are definitely not over the top — solid writing, solid vocals and relatable tunes will ensure Side Effects stays on repeat for quite some time to come.
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