Like a lot of artists, Scott and Todd Smith of Smith & Wesley were all set to release a new album and begin the process of promoting it via travel, live shows, interviews and radio airplay back in the spring when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
They were riding high after being named Music Row's 2020 Independent Artist of the Year after having a string of radio hits, so things were looking to be on the upswing. They'd already released the first single from the album, "Listen to the Radio."
"And the album was done so we wanted to get it out," Scott said.
The North Georgia-based brother duo have had two Billboard Top 40 Hits with the singles "Hook, Line & Sinker" and "A Little on the Redneck Side," and have landed four singles on Music Row's Top 20, 25 and 30 Charts. The official music videos for "Hook, Line & Sinker" and "A Little on the Redneck Side" have accumulated more than 1.7 million and 1.1 million YouTube views, respectively. "Greetings From the Land of Y'all," their third studio album, was released on Sept. 18, and the title track, "Land of Y'all," is currently on the country radio charts.
Scott pointed out that putting the album out was not only important to them creatively, but because radio needs new music and the best way to keep Smith & Wesley in people's minds is via radio.
"Plus, if we were going to keep putting singles out from it, at some point, we would have released every song and not had an album out there for people, so it made sense to put it out."
The album was produced by Cody McCarver and Shayne Hill, and "Land of Y'all" was written by Bernie Nelson and Phil O'Donnell.
It's the first time that the two brothers have recorded songs by other people. In fact, they wrote only five of the 12 songs, which Scott said illustrates how far they have come in the industry. Now, when they go to the trade shows and seminars where writers, agents, promoters and artists gather, they garner a good deal of attention.
Todd added that during early trips to such seminars, when they said the name Smith & Wesley, "people were like, 'The guns? Smith & Wesley?' But now the radio programmers know who we are. They know the name, and the reason they know it is because they are always seeing a Smith & Wesley song being played on the radio."
Todd said the title of the album raised eyebrows with some radio programmers in parts of the country that don't use the Southern contraction, but the title is both fitting and serendipitous.
"When people would ask us where we are from — 'cause I guess we talk a certain way — we'd say 'We're from the land of y'all,' so when Bernie wrote the song and we heard it, it was just perfect.
"It's about being from the country," Todd said.
"That's the way we looked at it," Scott added. "It's about being from the South and to us, being from the South is about being country, and really there are people from the country all over."
He added the two did discuss the title with the folks at their label, Audium Nashville, and the ways it might be perceived around the country in such a politically and PC-charged world.
"Unfortunately in today's environment, you have to be mindful of it," he said. "Not that you are trying to make a statement, but you might walk into something you had no idea of in today's environment."
Scott added that the song is about being proud of where they are from, and that people say 'y'all' in states from Texas to the southern part of Maryland. It's essentially a brag song about SEC football, fishing, NASCAR racing and beautiful scenery.
Todd said the song didn't reveal itself as the title track until after the album was finished. Scott said it has fallen to his brother to sequence their albums, making sure the tracks make sense next to each other. He said that their albums are almost like concept albums in that the songs have a concept or theme that work together and that the theme doesn't reveal itself until the album is done.
"He's real good about putting songs in order that could tell a story," Scott said. "I think there is an art to it, and Todd does a real good job of."
Their third album is filled with songs about life in the South, with titles such as "Caught Up on Drinking," "Goodbyes Are Hard To Listen to," "Gave Her My All" and "Southern, Country, Homegrown."
As for when or how the pair will be able to actually get out and promote the album in person, Scott said, "Nobody knows," but that they are looking forward to when it happens. Until then, fans have the radio and the album.
Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-757-6354.
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