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NEW ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Dallas Smith

Dallas Smith got into Country Music by Default. Default, of course, was the superstar band whose neo-grunge anthems shot them to the top of Canada’s indie-rock pile in the early ’00s. Their No. 2 smash in the U.S., “Wasting My Time,” exemplified their sound, particularly in Smith’s vocals: hurt, angry and ecstatic, all at the same time.

So here is Smith again, this time singing about moonshine, the Fourth of July, tan lines, Mountain Dew, Daisy Dukes and even “panties in your purse.” His angst has yielded to a more ebullient and exuberant approach. Somehow a little down-home drawl has softened his delivery, and even his song titles have started dropping their “g’s.”

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Photo credit: Kristin Barlowe

And guess what? With the release of his EP Tippin’ Point, produced by Joey Moi, we may be meeting the real Dallas Smith for the first time. Raised in rural British Columbia, he grew up to the tune of his mother’s Country albums, with plenty of Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson on the playlist. To these influences, he added Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban and other Country connoisseurs of strong melodies and expressive vocals. From Default, he learned to project with deep emotion; from Country, he stirred in some humor and accessibility. And on the title track and first single, written by Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, with Jaren Johnston, he ties it together with a lip-tripping hook, like he was born to sing this way. By Bob Doerschuk

For more on Dallas Smith, visit www.CMACloseUp.com.

IN HIS OWN WORDS

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NEW ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Florida Georgia Line

Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line. Photo credit: Adam TaylorYou don’t need to know that Tyler Hubbard comes from Monroe, Ga., or that his partner in Florida Georgia Line, Brian Kelley, comes from Ormond Beach, Fla. It’s the music that lets you know these two guys know how to kick it in the studio and onstage, Dixie style.

Scheduled to release Dec. 4 on the Republic Nashville imprint, Here’s to the Good Times is a pastiche of prickling banjo, walloping backbeats and muscle guitar, run through a blender of Country, Southern rock and a hint of hip-hop.

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