With Caitlyn Smith’s debut studio album Starfire set to hit shelves on Jan. 19, the small-town Minnesota native is reflecting on almost giving up the dream she fostered from a very young age — and all of the barriers she overcame to achieve it.
The musician says her new song “This Town Is Killing Me” comes from “an intimate place between the singer and the microphone.” “I wanted to capture the loneliness that can live there sometimes,” she tells PEOPLE.
Encapsulating a period when she struggled as a young musician, Smith says the song illustrates the sensation of “singing to a crowd that’s not really paying attention, [which is] one of the hardest things to do as an artist. Pouring your heart out and watching it fade into background music is brutal.”
While she describes “This Town Is Killing Me” as “painfully sad” she admits that her resolve to make it in music has never diminished. “As heartbreaking as this industry can be, the truth is that I love it and there’s nothing else I’d rather do.”
After spending years writing for other artists — including James Bay, John Legend and Meghan Trainor — the 12-track Starfire explores the range of Smith’s storytelling and expresses the thoughts and emotions she’s yearned to share as an artist in her own right.
Other songs off the album include the painfully intimate “Don’t Give Up on My Love,” which she wrote by herself in a cabin in North Dakota. “East Side Restaurant” is cinematic in its detailing of “a past relationship that was quite toxic.” But the album’s title track — also its lead single — remains particularly dear to Smith, who refers to it as her “theme song.”