Nate Smith’s “Whiskey On You” is a TikTok hit
The entertainment industry loves a good survival story. The more convincing, the better. Well, if emerging country singer-songwriter Nate Smith has anything going for him, it’s a truly moving backstory — a phoenix story about endurance and optimism in the face of tragedy. I’m not even being hyperbolic: Over the past 15 years, Smith has tried to get to Nashville multiple times, got divorced, and lost everything he owned in the 2018 Paradise, Calif. campfire. including his guitar. The bio practically writes itself.
But now? Smith is signed to Sony Music Nashville and takes over both TikTok Billboard‘s Emerging Artists chart with its breakthrough ballad “Whiskey On You” – a hugely satisfying country anthem that seems to come from a masterclass taught by Carrie Underwood. Audiences are really reacting to Smith, who reached No. 1 on the aforementioned Emerging Artists Chart. “Whiskey On You” currently has over 8 million streams on Spotify.
“Whiskey On You” IS a country-pop crossover. The production is tight and crisp, and Smith’s voice packs a punch but is noticeably weathered. The lyrics aren’t complex, but they’re universally appealing, with a post-romance Smith seemingly fed up with himself: me a farewell ride. The song’s composition is also traditionally compact but plays with the looping pop frame in a jagged guitar solo.
It’s hard not to be won over by Smith’s story. Hailing from Paradise, he grew up listening to a range of artists, both country and non – Elvis, Bob Seger, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Nirvana, Garth Brooks, Michael Jackson – and was active in his church, where he was a cult leader. In his early twenties, Smith moved to Nashville, signed with a Christian music label, Word Records, and landed a publishing deal with Centricity Music. Around this time he opened for artists like Brett Eldredge, Eli Young Band and X Ambassadors.
Nashville didn’t stick, however. As Smith told Entertainment Focus, “I had a publishing deal in Nashville, I was writing songs for other people, you know, but then I went through a tough divorce, it was tough. for both of us.We tried and tried and couldn’t make it work, and it didn’t leave me in a good mental and emotional state, and I just needed to be with my family again. I kind of left Nashville with my tail between my legs, and I lost my publishing deal because I left town too.
“I never intended to be an artist again,” he continued. “I was going to become a nurse. I said I was going to be a nurse for 13 years and never went to school to do it. So Smith took a job at a hospital in his hometown, and then the Paradise fire happened. Smith lost everything. As her family moved to Idaho, Smith resumed writing music.
“I started writing more music after that time and playing shows,” he said. “My friends had all encouraged me to go back to Nashville, so they started a GoFundMe for me to come back. I packed up and drove around America for a month and a half, living off my car. When I arrived in Nashville, met some amazing people who were able to help me, and finally landed management, booking, publishing, and a record deal in just under a year.
Along with his friend Miykael Goodwin, Smith wrote “One Of These Days” as a tribute to Paradise, and they released the hometown pride track as Cold Weather Sons. “One Of These Days” took off on social media after Smith performed it on a local news channel, singing, “I still remember the first time I fell in love with this town. green trees, the mountain breeze, the girl who shook my knees. I’m gonna miss it. I miss it already. Positive media coverage encouraged Smith to return to Nashville, and his next single, “Wildfire” , went viral on TikTok with 3 million views.
The combination of local media coverage and building an organic following on the still fledgling video platform no doubt helped Smith secure a record deal with Sony Music Nashville, which released his next single, ” Raised Up” last year. You can see the path to “Whiskey” on the piano “Raised Up,” which finds Smith poring over this broken survival tale. Clearly the industry is selling Smith: he’s a homegrown guy, someone you’ll have a beer with. He took a few hits, but he’s so much stronger for it. It is always devotional, but not isolated. Musically, he’s a vocal powerhouse, but his tone has a gruff, irregular edge to it. I don’t mean to put it all cynically – Smith’s output since signing with Sony has gone from “having potential” to “virgin”. Whatever producer/co-writer collaborations Sony brings to the table is fine with it.
Last year, Smith teamed up with Tenille Townes on the “I Don’t Wanna Go to Heaven” wedding. (He originally released “Heaven” last year, but it sounds much better as a duet.) That pretty much brings us to “Whiskey On You,” which, compared to Smith’s previous singles, is a delightful change of pace. . Smith was already showing promise as a serious albeit battered ballad with songs about love, hope, community and just a sprinkle cult, but “Whiskey” is a unifying blast of fucking fun – you can get it at any bar, anywhere in the world. I hope more songs like this are on the way.
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