Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
aitlyn Smith may be in a bit of a tough spot when it comes to figuring out exactly where she fits in the musical landscape. The Minnesota native certainly knows how to rock, but she's actually on Sony Nashville, a major player on the country side.
So, while the industry marketing experts may not be so certain, one thing that they can count on is Smith the performer. Great singer. Excellent charisma with warmth to spare. And lots of good songs.
Simply put, Smith was a powerhouse onstage, clearly enjoying herself as did the band even if there were maybe 100 people in the house.
Smith, who just put out the EP, "High," started off with the title track, and that's about as good as any introduction to what made for a stellar night of music. From a vocal standpoint, Smith started off quietly, singing softly. But pretty quickly, she turned up more than a few notches belting out the song (she wrote it with Erin Decilveo and Miley Cyrus, who cut the song for her 2020 album "Plastic Hearts") before bringing it back down again.
Smith kept her foot on the vocal pedal throughout the 85-minute show. This wasn't a night simply of showing off vocal calisthenics, but more a case of getting into the songs, like "Maybe in Another Life" with her on acoustic guitar and her bluesy side with her take on her cover of "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman)."
She took it down more than a few notches – and was just as powerful - with the heartfelt "Put Me Back Together" and "Dreamin's Free."
While the attention was on Smith, her backing quartet rocked, particularly guitarist Steve Bosmans. They were not guilty of rock antics; more so, they laid the groundwork for Smith to take over.
For sure, Smith is not a dyed-in-the-wool country singer, although she showcased a few country- flavored songs later in the set, closing with "Tacoma," a song she wrote for Garth Brooks.
It would hard to understate just what a superb singer, songwriter and performer Smith is. Whether Smith is able to be pigeon-holed is immaterial to the fact the she repeatedly proved just what a complete artist she is. That is a great spot to be in.
Catie Offerman opened with a short, half-hour set that was a homecoming of sorts. The Texas native went to the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston, graduating at only 19 seven years ago. She's got herself a record deal with Universal and just released her first single, "Happyland Trailer Park."
Offerman, 26, has one very pretty sounding voice that sort of recalls Kacey Musgraves with her songs, although Offerman is squarely playing country music. Most of her seven songs were of the mid-tempo variety.
Performing as a duo with both and she her accompanist on acoustic, Offerman said she had the same haircutter as George Strait before playing a snippet of "All My Exes Live in Texas" before hitting her stride with "Just Don't Do It in Texas," which actually namechecks Strait. Unlike a lot of her contemporaries, it didn't sound like a platitude as one could hear his influence.
Offerman stayed true to her roots, and that served her well.