Leave it to a singer from Canada to best sum up America's car culture. In his high-octane new single "Kids With Cars," arena-voiced country artist Dallas Smith takes a nostalgic spin through the days when having four wheels was all that mattered.
"It takes you back to the first car you ever owned in high school, to when you hung out in the parking lot," Dallas says. "You had your little group of Civics and imports over here, and you had the guys with the classic cars over there. And then there were the girls with the brand-new Mustangs. All of the different social groups were based upon what you drove."
For Dallas, he experienced those car cliques growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he eventually turned the key on what would become a hugely successful recording and touring career. As the lead singer of the multi-platinum rock group Default, he entertained hundreds of thousands of fans around the world, leading epic sing-alongs of the band's monster hit "Wasting My Time." Eventually setting out on his own as a solo artist, Dallas dominated the Canadian country charts with songs like "Lifted," "Tippin' Point" and the multi-week #1 hit "Wastin' Gas."
Raised on the music of such country megastars as Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn and Reba McEntire, Dallas knew his path would ultimately lead him to Nashville. Especially when he discovered later, through Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts, that he could fuse his affection for guitar-driven rock with country storytelling.
“Today Country radio sounds like the perfect mix of what I grew up with,” he says. “This really is the best of both worlds for me.”
Helping Dallas bridge those worlds is producer Joey Moi, who has overseen chart-topping albums by Florida Georgia Line and Jake Owen. “We’ve always talked about how cool it would be to make a record that involves all the musical styles we grew up liking,” says Dallas of his longstanding partnership with Joey.
Their first stab at such an album was Dallas’ Canadian country debut, JUMPED RIGHT IN, a project that netted Dallas five Canadian Country Music Association Award nominations in 2013 in addition to a JUNO Award nomination for Country Album of the Year. At the 2015 CCMA Awards, he's up for four trophies, including Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Male Artist of the Year and Fans’ Choice Award and earlier this year, won the JUNO Award for Country Album of the Year for LIFTED. In addition, Dallas — whom the Huffington Post named one of its 15 Country Artists to Watch — is the only Canadian male country artist to spend multiple weeks at the top of the Country Airplay Chart in the Nielsen BDS era for single “Wastin’ Gas”.
Now fully entrenched in the Nashville community (he made his American country debut with the infectious single “Tippin’ Point”), Dallas has been tearing up U.S. roads as the opening act for Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line.
Still, he is steadfastly his own performer, forging his own identity both on record and on stage, and standing out thanks to a blockbuster voice. "I want to use that to my advantage," he admits humbly. "I have something to offer vocally that I hope country music fans will really like.”
Along with those soaring pipes, Dallas also has a wealth of radio-ready songs lined up for his American full-length debut, set for a 2016 release on Blaster Records. Running the gamut from no-holds-barred rockers to earnest love songs, the new album showcases the many sides of the down-to-earth country-rocker. It also includes three of his most popular songs from his soon-to-be-released KIDS WITH CARS EP: "Wastin' Gas," the dynamic "Lifted" and the joyously rhythmic "Cheap Seats."
The focal point, though, is the genre-bending newness of "Kids With Cars."
"That song is right up my alley. It comes from a blue-collar background, which is what I grew up with. It's 100 percent relatable to me and brings me back to a cool and familiar place in my life," he says.
It's also the perfect vehicle with which to introduce Dallas to a broader fan base. In the end, he says, he most wants to be known for his diversity: as an interpreter of songs, from anthems to ballads.
"I never want to be an artist that releases the same type of song every time. I want to cover a bunch of different topics," he says. "With 'Kids With Cars,' this is the most on my game I've ever felt."