Conner Smith Reflects On His Path to Authentic Songwriting Following Release Of Debut Album

“I think that as I peel back the layers, I’m getting to a place as a songwriter that it’s more real and more honest and more unfiltered than ever,” Smith shares.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

March 6, 2024

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Conner Smith; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Since dropping his debut album, Smoky Mountains, Conner Smith admits he’s been feeling a surge of inspiration and is “fired up” about all the new music he’s been writing on his own.

The full-length project was unveiled on Friday (Jan. 26) via The Valory Music Co. and features songs like the GOLD-certified “Take It Slow,” his viral hit “I Hate Alabama,” Top 10 single “Creek Will Rise” and more. Serving as a writer on all but one of these 12 tracks allowed Smith to give fans an intimate look into his journey that stems directly from his deep Tennessee roots. 

“It feels like I spent my whole life waiting on that debut record and dreaming about it. So to have it finally out into the world, it takes the live show to another level,” he told Country Now during 2024’s Country Radio Seminar (CRS). “It’s really cool…I’m writing right now more than ever, and just fired up about how to build from there. I wanted this record to really feel like an album and to lay a foundation more than anything. I hope it did that, it seems like it has.”

Conner Smith - Smoky Mountains
Conner Smith – Smoky Mountains

Bringing More Honesty And Authenticity Into His Next Songs

Smith went on to say that despite having just released a full-length project, he still has plenty more stories to tell. Fans can expect his next set of music to reflect even more honesty and authenticity as he draws inspiration directly from his real-life experiences.

“I think that as I peel back the layers, I’m getting to a place as a songwriter that it’s more real and more honest and more unfiltered than ever. I’ve been writing a bunch of songs just by myself and I hope to put those out soon and just really connect with the storytelling part of country music. That’s what I want to be as an artist. So I think the songs we’re writing right now are going to follow that trend.”

Conner Smith; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Conner Smith; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Blocking Out The Opinions Of Others

From a very young age, Smith has dreamed about hearing his songs on country radio and following in the footsteps of artists who have gone on to be recognized with awards such as Entertainer of the Year. He started to slowly inch his way closer to achieving those goals when he signed his first publishing deal at 16 years old and then a record deal at 18. With that responsibility also comes a desire to please fans, country radio and his team in order to keep building a bigger and better career. Smith has made a strong effort to always to release what feels like his most authentic self, however, sometimes that’s easier said than done as a young artist trying to build a career for himself.

“As you kind of get into that, and get into the system, I think you start to shape your songwriting for a long time around ‘what do people want to hear? and ‘what do they want you to say?’ and ‘what does radio want you to do?’ I think I’ve fought against that a decent bit,” he admits.

Conner Smith; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Conner Smith; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Working Hard To Stay True To Himself

This record, along with the latest tunes he’s written by himself, has given Smith a newfound freedom to be  “unfiltered and pure in what I want to say without any other opinion.” When all is said and done, the “I Hate Alabama” singer says he hopes he will be remembered for staying true to himself and showcasing that through his growing collection of songs.

“The one thing I’ve learned is that the best thing you can be is yourself, and the hardest thing to be is yourself,” Smith shared. “So as a songwriter, just sitting down with a guitar and writing a song that I would want to listen to and not worry about anything else, it has released to me this freedom of creativity that taps into a well that feels really fresh to me right now.”

He continued, “I think the fans really connect with that in a really cool way. Fans are drawn to authenticity because I think every person, at a certain level, knows how hard it is to truly be authentic and truly be yourself. So when an artist is able to do that creatively and express that in a way, where there is kind of a spotlight on it and a vulnerability to it, I think it really connects with fans.”

When Is Conner Smith Getting Married?

Along with establishing his next chapter as an artist, Conner Smith is also about to enter a new era of life as a husband. He revealed that he and his fiancée Leah Thompson are tying the knot in April with a “simple” and “low key” ceremony that will surround them with all the most important people in their lives. 

“There’s a lot to celebrate right now. Trying to keep my head on straight. A lot of change coming, but I’m excited for it,” Smith shared honestly. 

For the next few days, Conner Smith will be performing overseas as part of Europe’s annual C2C: Country to Country Festival. Then on March 15, he will return to the U.S. for the final date of his headline Creek Will Rise Tour. 

Throughout the summer he will appear at several festivals while also serving as an opening act for artists like Chase Rice and Chris Young.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.