“I definitely leaned in more on writing this record and I wanted to push myself,” Caitlyn Smith says of her second LP Supernova. She’d spent years building a career as a behind-the-scenes songwriter, excelling at the prized Nashville skill of painting naturalistic, relatable scenes in lyrics. Then she put that to use on her 2018 full-length breakthrough, Starfire, which told the story of her difficulty securing an outlet for her own artistry. Supernova, made in LA and Nashville with producers Christian “Leggy” Langdon and Paul Moak, reflects her pursuit of bolder melodies and performances. “I think the theme of the record is all about feelings, and I think that Supernova is a perfect title, a supernova being the fullest expression of a star,” she explains. “I really feel like each of these songs are the fullest expression of each human emotion. They touch on so much, on anxiety and loss and the highs of and lows of love and loneliness and everything in between.” Here Smith tells the stories behind every track on her sophomore record. Long Time Coming “‘Long Time Coming’ was the first song that I wrote with my producer on this record, Leggy Langdon, and another amazing songwriter, Jenn Decilveo. So the first time that we sat down to write, I was coming off of maternity leave, six weeks postpartum, and had a lot of emotions. I flew with my baby to LA, and it was the first song that I'd written after having a kid. There was a lot of looking in the mirror and a lot of reflecting and wanting to do what I call personal excavation, where I wanted of get rid of the things that didn't serve me and didn't serve other people. So for some people, ‘Long Time Coming’ might sound like a breakup song, but while I was writing it, my head was at breaking up with the part of myself that I don't want to be. Where you can feel the tension in the verses, the chorus is truly this soaring ballad of hope, that you may have lived this way for a long time, but if you choose to make the steps forward, you're going to be okay and you're going get there.” Damn You for Breaking My Heart “Vocally, I was definitely wanting to stretch myself, and so you get these soaring choruses. It was written with Gordie Sampson and my husband, Rollie Gaalswyk. Rollie and I actually write maybe once every couple of months, and I always love what we come up with. Sometimes we write love songs, but sometimes, like in this case, it's not. We actually were going back and forth one morning and one of us had said, ‘Damn you,’ and the other said, ‘That's a great song title.’ And then I said, ‘Don't you dare write that without me.’ So we kind of started writing it right there after this little fight we had. It's funny to write breakup songs with your husband. We're very happy, but we kind of work on our marital issues in the room a little bit, which Gordie has known us for years, so he's fine with it.” Put Me Back Together “We were going back closer to what the work tape of the song was, or the original demo that I had created, and I'm very proud of where we took it. Musically, I think it suits me and I think it suits the song. It's a very vulnerable song in those verses, so that's why it needed to be kind of stripped back.” All Over Again “That was such a fun writing session, because it was with Shane McAnally and Ryan Tedder, who are two of my songwriting idols. So to sit in the room with those two people and craft a song together, it was just a beautiful day. We stumbled onto the title and the chorus fell out in the room; in, like, five minutes it was written, and then we were able to slow down and take our time crafting those verses. One of my favorite lines in the song is ‘When you sink so low, I lose you there in the dark.’ I feel like everybody has that person that you want to love and you want to fix, you want to help, but you just can't change them and you just can't fix them. It's pretty painful.” I Don't Want to Love You Anymore “I've got a dear friend who was in a relationship and they had been dating over two years, and he just woke up one day and was like, ‘I don't want to do this anymore.’ And just left. She was devastated, totally out of the blue. So as a good friend and songwriter, you just pour the wine, and you say, ‘Tell me more about that.’ It was really near and dear to my heart, because I felt like I was kind of experiencing this loss through her. I wanted to write a song for her and what she was going through.” Supernova “What I love is the juxtaposition of the tiny vignettes that are crafted in those verses to something so massive and intense as a supernova. I think that it's such a beautiful picture of zooming in really, really small, but then talking about life in general should be lived as bright and as beautiful as a supernova is. It was one of my favorite sessions, I think, on this record with Aimee Mayo. We basically just cried the whole day, thought about our parents and our kids and wrote this sweet little song.” I Can't “A lot of my inspiration for the songs that I was writing for this record has to do with looking in the mirror and changing, becoming a better version of yourself. Sometimes it comes with setting up boundaries and saying goodbye to people. I think ‘I Can't’ is all about that. Especially when you're looking in the mirror and you realize you're the one that has to change, sometimes it feels overwhelming. And you feel like you just can't.” Rare Bird “‘Rare Bird’ is a Paul Moak track. I knew pretty much right after I wrote that song that that needed to be executed by Paul. We cut it with a live band. I knew he would capture the spirit of the song perfectly. I was just digging into my rock ’n’ roll roots.” Midnight in New York City “My band and I have spent a lot of time in New York City over the years, and I feel like every time I step into that city, I come out with at least one song, if not more. That was inspired by a night out with my band guys, and we were partying until the wee hours in the morning and every corner that you look, there's just a beautiful little picture. I think the sexy 6/8 feel with the sexy midnight scene, it's just a perfect marriage.” Fly Away “It's a true story that we've lived. We had struggles and we left Nashville and decided to park it in Minnesota for a couple of years. I love this song. I had been listening to a lot of Patty Griffin’s Flaming Red. So you can kind of hear that influence bleed into the track.” Feel That Way “I wrote that with Ashley Monroe. It was on Valentine's Day, I remember it vividly. Ashley and I smoked a big joint and wrote a song about our husbands that day. Ashley is such a beautiful songwriting soul, and her melodies blow my mind. So for me, that was a fun treat, because we get to play around with melodies that I wouldn't normally gravitate towards, like that first melody. Plus, who doesn't love a good R&B song?” Lonely Together “I wrote that song 39 weeks pregnant, so I was full to the brim with emotions. After coming off the road touring all year pregnant, I was feeling a lot—just being gone, feeling disconnected. You play your show and you go back to the hotel room, and then you get on Instagram and you realize you're out on the road and everybody else is just moving on with their lives and it doesn't matter that you're gone. It can hit you at different times where it's hard and it's lonely. But the beautiful thing about it, and what I'm grateful for in my story and journey, is I get to do this with my husband. So I'm not putting my head down on the Courtyard Marriott pillow alone. We both get to hold each other at the end of the night. And where we both might be feeling this same loneliness and loss of community with the jobs that we have, at least we have each other to hold on to.”

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