For years, Caitlyn Smith was one of Nashville’s best-kept secrets. Starting off behind the scenes, Smith first made a name for herself around town penning hits for others, including Garth Brooks, Lady Antebellum, and Dolly Parton. The Minnesota native is also a powerhouse vocalist, though, and it was only a matter of time before Smith’s time spent wowing audiences at writer’s rounds would lead to a career as a solo artist.
Smith will release her full-length debut album, Starfire, via Monument Records on January 19. Included on the album is “Tacoma,” a track originally recorded by Garth Brooks for his 2014 album Man Against Machine. Smith wrote the song — an anthemic ballad about the power of moving on — with Bob DiPiero, a Nashville fixture known for writing over a dozen number one songs.
“‘Tacoma’ is one of those songs that just came to life when we got in the writing room,” she says. “When I woke up that morning to go to the write, I was stuck for an idea to bring to my first writing session with this icon of a man. Nothing was coming to me, but when I put in his office address into the navigation on my phone, it took me to a location in Tacoma, Washington. From there the title hit me, and the rest fell into place when we got together in a room. I loved the idea of being so hurt by someone, you will go across the country to escape the pain.”
Ahead of Starfire‘s release, Smith has shared a new video for “Tacoma.” The cinematic clip echoes the bittersweet narrative of the song’s lyrics, featuring Smith packing up a car before hitting the road for a series of performances. The video also recalls a real-life trip Smith took to Tacoma via Amtrak in 2016.
“‘Tacoma’ has taken me so many places both metaphorically in my career and literally across the country,” she adds. “It organically just became one of those songs that people gravitated toward, even before I had a record deal. We even used it as the inspiration to film a documentary where some of my favorite songwriters — Ruston Kelly, Bob DiPiero, Paul Moak, my husband Rollie Gaalswyk — and I jumped on an Amtrak and took it all the way from Memphis, Tennessee to Tacoma, Washington, writing songs all along the way. It was a perfect way to embody the heart of that song and write with these amazing people while being inspired from the experiences and scenery along the way.”
Smith will perform on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on January 16. Watch “Tacoma” below.