Conner Smith Talks ‘Take It Slow,’ Reflects On ‘Unreal’ Experience Touring With Thomas Rhett

Smith surprised fans with the release of an acoustic version of his new single, “Take It Slow,” with Ryan Hurd.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

September 16, 2022


11:27 am

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Conner Smith; Photo by Jack Owens

Despite what his latest contribution to radio says, things are not slowing down anytime soon for Conner Smith.

Co-written by Smith alongside Ryan Hurd and Mark Trussell, the upbeat tune of “Take It Slow” captures the innocence of a first love when the nights are young, and the memories are made to last a lifetime. 

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It was Trussell’s guitar riff and Zach Crowell’s production that ultimately sold Smith on finishing the song he had been holding onto. Fans have been craving more of the Tennessee native’s velvety vocals and addicting soundtracks and that’s exactly what he delivered with this song. 

“What I love about this song is it’s so intimate, but it’s so innocent at the same time,” Smith told Country Now and other outlets. “I think there’s a cool balance to that where it’s like, you know, the song has a level of toughness, but at the same time, it holds this level of intimacy and youth in the song, which I think really kind of captures who I am a lot.”

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It’s important to note that the acoustic version Smith recently announced to his listeners speaks the same wholesome message while showcasing it in an even more tender manner. On Friday (Sept. 16), he released the stripped-down track, but this time, Hurd will be singing background vocals on the recording. 

“What I love about it is that it kind of, it sounds just as cool produced up the way it is as it does just me sitting there with a guitar,” he shared. “Ryan’s such a good guy. He texted me and…I told him this song was gonna go to radio. He said, ‘Hey man, whatever you need me to do to help just let me know.’ So he was very kind to feature on the acoustic version of it.”

The singer on the rise revealed that this special release is really just the original demo with some heightened recordings from Hurd. 

“What you’ll hear is pretty true to what I heard the first time I heard that song recorded, which is cool. But I always came back to it ‘cause like I said, you know, the production of ‘Take It Slow’ to me is a masterclass in producing. What Zach did to that song blows my mind, but at the same time, I’ve always come back to the demo of that song because it also has this whole other sort of magic to it.”

Before it hit radio on Monday (Sept. 12), “Take It Slow” was already a fan-favorite on his six-track collection, Didn’t Go Too Far. The project also features viral hits like “College Town,” “Learn From It” and “I Hate Alabama.” 

“I hate Alabama was the first song that really kinda started to separate me in country music and just gave me something that people knew me by. Cause whether you love it or hate that song, it makes you say, ‘who’s that artist?’ So that was a big thing for us.”

His most recent release, “Orange And White” dropped just in time for football season as it serves as a sequel to “I Hate Alabama.” This song is not only the perfect game-day anthem, but it also speaks to who Smith is as a 22-year-old artist who loves college sports. 

“All of my friends, you know, they’ll always send me a video on game day in Knoxville or Tuscaloosa or Auburn where they’re walking to the game and they hear one of my songs playing from the tailgate. I’s like that’s the dream right there.”

If his parents hadn’t taken him to visit the Grand Ole Opry when he was just 7 years old or if he had never signed with BMI at nine, Smith may never have gotten to this point of having a successful, budding career. This summer when he finally made his Opry debut, he went the extra mile to show his family some gratitude and add to sentiment to the night. 

“It was a moment of standing in just like complete faithfulness to the Lord of like this kid at six or seven, who had a dream to write songs. Then the journey that I’ve been on and the people that have been placed in my life at the perfect moments and the songs that I’ve written and all of it leading to this moment of acceptance into country music by getting to play the Grand Ole Opry.”

Although he doesn’t plan to resurrect the songs of his younger years anytime soon, there are a few that have stuck with him, like the one he performed at his opry debut titled, “Jesus & Me.” At 14 years old, Smith wrote this song by himself about his great-grandparents. 

“The day I played it for my parents, my mom looked at me and said, ‘you’re gonna play that song at the Grand Ole Opry one day.’ So as I got asked to make my Grand Ole Opry debut, it was like, of course I could get up there and play the radio single and then some song the label wants to push next and that’d be fine, but I was like, man, you only get one Grand Ole Opry debut and I gotta make this thing special.”

For his first big stint on the road, Smith was invited to serve as a special guest alongside Parker McCollum on Thomas Rhett’s Bring The Bar To You Tour. Getting to step into a “massive dream” like this experience was “unreal” for Smith because in a way, it brought things full circle. 

“I tell the story every night on tour that when I was 16, I took a girl on a date to a Thomas Rhett show at Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville,” he began. “The day after the concert, she broke up with me, which is hilarious now. So it’s like five or six years later, I get to open up for Thomas Rhett on this entire tour. It’s one of those things that, it’s just kind of hard to believe, the dream I’m getting to live right now.”

McCollum and Rhett have taken Smith under their wings and showed him the ropes, acting as his “big brothers” while he learns along the way. 

He added, “There’s no preparing you for that first tour. So you know, I’m kind of growing into who I am as an artist and a leader and a touring musician, that’s a hard thing. It’s been challenging, it’s been super rewarding, but genuinely, I couldn’t think of two better guys to learn from them.”

On Sept. 17 Conner Smith will return to Nashville to provide direct support for Parker McCollum at Ascend Amphitheater.

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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.