LIVE: Joanna Smith @ Proctors, 1/13/11

Joanna Smith

Adorable and cute from her golden curls right down to her cowboy boots, Joanna Smith is a superbly talented young singer-songwriter who has already left her mark on country music as a respected songwriter.

Just ask Billy Ray Cyrus, who recorded two of her tunes on his hugely successful 2007 album, “Home at Last.”

Not content with standing in the shadows of the Nashville greats, Smith has struck out on her own with her debut recording, “ Gettin’ Married,” and a national tour that brought her to Schenectady to kick off WGNA’s “Rising Star Country Series” at the intimate GE Theatre in Proctors.

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Wielding a guitar and a captivating smile, the 25-year-old Smith was relaxed and comfortable performing a handful of her original songs in an hour-long set last Thursday night. Her colourful songs were filled with a vivid patchwork of imagery drawn from her Georgia farm-girl roots. Tunes about water tower towns, rural weddings and adolescent kissing in public were delivered honestly and with an endearing Southern twang.

Anyway you look at it, Joanna Smith’s tunes evoke an acute understanding of rural America. This is a big bonus when it comes to having a successful career in country music because there’s always room in that genre for a talented Georgia farm girl singing alongside a Coal Miner’s Daughter (Loretta Lynn) and a poor Appalachian Mountain Girl (Dolly Parton).

Smith’s strong guitar licks and singing was expertly accompanied by the impassioned fiddling of Caitlin Nicol-Thomas, who also pitched in for some fine harmony vocals. From their first tune to their last, it was evident that Joanna Smith is destined to go places as a recording and touring artist in the country music world.

Stay tuned because Smith may be headlining WGNA’s Country Fest in no time at all.

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Excerpt from Jeff Wilkins’ review at The Daily Gazette: “Smith got the audience clapping for Elvis Presley’s ‘Burning Love,’ which gave Nicol-Thomas – who also chipped in on vocals during the night – the chance for a robust solo. The performers entertained with ‘Georgia Mud,’ another dreamy romantic special about young love: ‘Back then, me and him, big grins, covered in that Georgia mud.’ The wit and fun in ‘Gettin’ Married’ also came through. This country rocker, in which a young woman laments all her friends are settling down, is a hoot.”

Next up on the Rising Star concert series: The husband-and-wife duo Thompson Square heads into Proctors at 7:30pm on Thursday, March 10.

Joanna Smith

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