Actor Riley Smith, best known for his starring role on the popular TV show Nashville, not only plays a singer-songwriter on TV, he is also one in real life too. Smith releases a new single called I’m on Fire, which he co-wrote with Matthew Perryman Jones and Tim Lauer (Hank Williams, Shawn Mendes, and Blake Shelton), from his upcoming EP. Listen to I’m on Fire:
Smith’s vocals and songwriting blend country rock, hard-hitting, soulful Americana and modern pop that makes for a unique sound. It’s no secret to those familiar with his lead role on the show Nashville, that Smith’s gritty, yet smooth, singing voice and charismatic presence have built him a career on stage and screen. Acting in popular shows like 24, True Blood, True Detective, and Frequency, his latest lead role on The CW, got him out in front of the people. His love for music helped to solidify his presence in front of a brand new audience.
The long-awaited, self-titled EP is produced by Kevin Leach, who has previously worked with a wide array of major label acts and respected indie artists. The five-song EP is inspired by his time in Nashville and is relative to feelings and emotions he had while living in the compelling, yet isolating, city. Smith explains how time and place had a huge impact on his writing process and ultimately made the EP what it is. “My influences are as diverse as the city,” he says.
Smith decided to return to music after landing a role in the hit TV show Nashville. Aware of the impact of being in an iconic city of music, Smith’s goal was to take this opportunity and use it to his advantage. His time spent in Nashville encouraged him to submerge himself within the world of music. Smith confides, “I set out with a goal and plan to utilize my time in Nashville to write with as many writers as I could, with the goal of making an album.”
After moving to Nashville, Smith dove into the realm of old, classic, country music, exploring its history and roots. However, the longer he was there and the more musicians he collaborated with, the more dynamic and divergent his sound became.
Smith’s writing process began to reference a wider variety of sounds and styles resulting in a body of music that’s relatable, heartfelt and diverse. “It’s what I think makes the sound unique and kinda difficult to put in a box,” he reveals.
He describes the EP as ‘loner music’, adding, “there’s a common theme of distance and space running through the EP. There’s a longing and yearning to the music – lonesome at times”.
This relatable desire for closeness will inspire audiences to not feel alone, to feel understood in the world and realize that there are others who are feeling the same way, he says. Smith adds, “I want the EP to hopefully transcend to anyone who’s ever felt alone”.
The lead single I’m On Fire features Smith’s warm vocals, resonating guitars and an infectious chorus. His heart-wrenchingly authentic delivery results in a beautiful and achingly relatable record that is sure to be a radio hit.
Smith describes how there was instant chemistry and respect between him and co-writers Perryman Jones and Lauer and how the song felt like it wrote itself. I’m on Fire exemplified what my time writing in Nashville was all about to me. The synergy. The talent,” he says.
Other songs like I Can’t Keep Missing You highlight the traditional pop-country sound that we are familiar with. It successfully merges a pop lyricism and sensibility with country, while Break Something mixes Smith’s versatile sound of Americana with a fiery blues rock delivery. Smith’s past successes include supporting Jordan Sparks, a residency at the iconic Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles and a European tour. Further achievements include major market radio play and numerous film and TV placements.
Smith is the lead singer and guitarist for the band The Life of Riley, what he refers to as one of his hobbies. He has appeared in over a hundred roles in film and television including the movie Radio (Ed Harris, Cuba Gooding Jr.), Eight-Legged Freaks, Not Another Teen Movie, New York Minute, and Gallowwalkers (Wesley Snipes).
His solo EP, Riley Smith, will be released on July 21st, worldwide.
by Lydia Reed, Los Angeles, California, USA