TULAROSA ON SEPTEMBER 18
VIA INKIND MUSIC/RED
New York, NY (August 11, 2015) – The pure and unconscious need to create enables us to transcend our preconceived self-made boundaries. For West Texas-born blues-rock wunderkind Rett Smith, never having sung in public didn’t stop him from taking the stage at House Of Blues in Los Angeles to play his soulful and emotionally cathartic songs. Three years later, he releases his debut, Tularosa, a modern bluesy rock n roll masterwork produced by nine-time Grammy winner Joe Nicolo (Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Fugees).Tularosa is out September 18th.
“Some thoughts and feelings either stay in your head and you jump off a bridge, or you write them down somewhere,” the NYC-based singer-songwriter-guitarist says with a weary chuckle. “Doing music saved my life.”
Rett Smith’s distinct musicality conjures up hard luck blues, outlaw country, 1960s garage, and early rock n’ roll. He writes storyteller songs that he sings with a honeyed drawl that’s both paternal and penetrating. His aesthetic draws from a heritage of 40s, 50s, and 60s country and blues artists passed down by his father that includes such artists as Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, Reverend Gary Davis, and Buddy Guy.
As a relative newbie on the scene, it would be a heartfelt and homespun video of him performing his song “Warmest Winter” that altered the course of his life when legendary producer Joe Nicolo heard it and flew Rett out to Philly to experience his staggering talents. Subsequently, Nicolo has taken him fully under his wing as a producer and something of a career guru.
Rett’s path in music became purposeful when his sports career came to a finish. “I was in a dark place then and I had a real shaky start with guitar, but I began to get motivated and pursue it with the same focus I had when I did sports,” he confides. For years prior, he had been privately writing poetry to stave off depression and loneliness from being away from his family while traveling as a promising athlete. Writing and music converged after accepting people’s perceptions that his “poems” where actually songs without music. He soon connected both burgeoning gifts and found himself with a collection of songs and no one to sing them.
Concerned more with the process than the outcome, he demoed a few songs in a trio format with him in the role as singer-songwriter-guitarist. That four-song demo EP organically created a buzz around Los Angeles, where he was living at the time, and he soon found himself accepting a live slot at the legendary House Of Blues on Sunset.
Tularosa is Rett’s first official release and it encapsulates his work as an artist thus far and snapshots his upbringing. The six-song EP is named after a downtrodden village in Otero County, New Mexico. The visual imagery of this beat town conjures the rugged Americana and poignant and poetic slant of the lyrics on Tularosa. “It’s like most places where no one leaves their hometown and they frustratingly never know what to do with their lives so follow conventions like going to a state school, or getting a job after high school. The images and that town are metaphors for the struggle and isolation we all feel getting older,” Rett says.
The songs on Tularosa are unobtrusively captured by producer Joe Nicolo with an audio verite feel to the recordings. Its real people, playing in real time, lending the album an intimate performance-like quality. Rett turns in a raucous version of Roky Erickson’s “Two Headed Dog” that seethes with burly blues motifs and a simmering melodic vocal delivery that reveals the durable pop-rock hooks the garage rock master eloquently crafted. The swampy “One Block Bar” kicks up some Delta blues mojo. The blues ballad “Warmest Winter” evokes the Rolling Stones at their most reflective and redemptive. Throughout the album Rett plays emotionally articulate guitar, tempering technique to fit a songs soulful spirit, uncorking his fiery chops in key moments like in the furious intro solo of “Eyes Of Me” where he plays the blues like a man possessed.
Up next, Rett is planning to hit the road, and he also has two albums of material in reserve for future releases. “Playing music is like therapy, if I’m pissed you know it by how I am onstage, if I’m happy you know it by how I am onstage. Music helps me get out of my head and share emotions with the audience,” he explains.