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The Broken Record

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Album Review

After half a dozen self-released albums, Georgia singer/songwriter Corey Smith moves up to independent label Average Joe's and re-introduces himself on The Broken Record, a virtual now-and-then best-of on which he mixes new compositions with new recordings of some of his older songs. Emerging in the early 2000s, Smith never considered going to Nashville to seek his fortune; he simply started booking himself and selling his music online, maintaining his day job as a high-school teacher until he made music pay. Such a D.I.Y. approach makes for considerable freedom, of course, but that can be a double-edged sword. (And it's not as though nobody was telling him what to do. The brief interlude "Hey Corey" consists of dozens of overlapping voices saying, "Hey, Corey, you know what this record needs?") Had he been subject to the guidance of a big record label, Smith might have been warned against recording "I Love Everyone," which he may consider ecumenical, though it really comes off as condescendingly tolerant, as a redneck son of the South proclaims, "I love black people" before adding "brown people," gays, and atheists, among others he denies being prejudiced against. (Average Joe's, home of such provocative artists as Colt Ford, no doubt had no problem including the track.) Much of the time, Smith celebrates the redneck life from another point of view, looking back nostalgically at a drunken youth in such songs as "If I Could Do It Again" and "Twenty-One." Those tunes might be just a bit too sodden to be country hits (which is saying something), but it's easy to imagine some country star going to radio with "Maybe Next Year," another paean to hedonism in which the singer says he might reform, about 365 days from now. Smith has a good country tenor, and he sets his songs to attractive country-folk arrangements. It's easy to tell why his concert schedule is filled, and The Broken Record is likely to take his career to another level.


Born: Jefferson, GA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Country singer, songwriter, and guitarist Corey Smith was born in Jefferson, Georgia, just a few miles from Athens, the region's musical center. Growing up with country music, he developed a writing style that steered clear of the genre tropes of trucks and backroad bonfire parties and pointed toward a less idealized but more natural view of what it was to be country in the 21st century. Following high school he attended Gainesville State College, transferred to the University of West Georgia, and...
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