Interview: Canaan Smith Talks Diamond On The Dresser, Going Independent, The First Song He Ever Wrote, Luke Combs Being A Fan of His Work and More

With over 500 million streams, and counting, Williamsburg, Virginia native Canaan Smith has made waves in country music as both an artist and a songwriter.

With two albums under his belt – 2015’s ‘Bronco’ (Mercury Nashville) and 2021’s ‘High Country Sound’ (Round Here Records) – and the #1 Platinum-certified smash single ‘Love You Like That’, Smith has cemented his position as one of the genre’s most versatile artists. As an artist he’s toured the US with the likes of Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert, Dierks Bentley and Kip Moore, and taken his music international to the UK supporting UK duo The Shires, to C2C: Country to Country at London’s O2 Arena, as well as touring the UK in his own right with his ‘Back For More’ run in 2017.

As a songwriter he’s had tracks cut by artists including HARDY feat. Morgan Wallen, Cody Johnson, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Cole Swindell, Brian Kelley, Tyler Hubbard, Billy Ray Cyrus, Kristian Bush and Love and Theft.

More recently, Canaan has released a string of popular songs including his current single Diamond on the Dresser which he co-wrote with James McNair and features Emily Weisband.

The song is one of Smith’s most personal tracks to date and one of the most beautiful both sonically and lyrically.

We caught up with Canaan to discuss Diamond on the Dresser, being an independent artist, having a fan in Luke Combs and more!

Canaan was at home at chatting on Zoom whilst taking care of his 15 month old son. A refreshing way to have an interview, I couldn’t help but relate to the skill of multi-tasking looking after a toddler whilst being on the phone! It was heartwarming and made the interview much more comfortable. Seeing any parent in that environment is always a joy because that balance is hard and it was humbling to see that part of Canaan.

After discussing being parents and how we cannot remember life without them and that our lives seemed pointless before we had our children we dived into career focused questions.

Canaan Smith and Emily Weisband

Last time I saw you personally, you were supporting The Shires on tour

Oh gosh, what a great trip! That whole tour was so fun! It was awesome, they were so kind and I was fortunate to be in front of their crowd every night. I got to see almost your whole country in 40 days.

Amazing! Their audience aren’t necessarily pure country fans either so you would gave gained a lot of non-country fans too.


Of course we have to talk about Diamond on The Dresser so I am going to jump straight in there. It’s beautiful and it’s very personal and I know that there is a lot of information about it out there anyway but I just wanted to know if there is anything else you could share about it? The first thing that comes to mind really?

Yeah! It’s designed to conjure up feelings and it grew from very personal experiences from alcoholism in the family. So, the subject came easy and I definitely felt a lot of times through some really high drama moments and some really sad moments that the end is near for a couple of people I know who struggle with it and it scares me to death you know? So this song was designed to hopefully be a wake up call to whoever needs it you know? It was also cathartic in a way to write the ending myself without knowing what it is going to be.

As you say, you wrote it for other people too so the listener may relate and I think it will do/does exactly that! Addiction comes in many forms, whether that be alcoholism, drug addiction or one people may not realise is a form of addiction and that’s depression. This song will be a massive healer for people no matter what their age as it doesn’t always have to be a happy song that helps you deal or heal. Relatability and knowing you’re not alone can help much more than a positive uplifting tune! You will have many people sharing their stories with you on how it’s helped!

I think there’s way more people out there who can relate to it than you realise. Not a lot of people talk about it but I am sure it is hitting home for a lot of people. It’s not comfortable to talk about and it’s so discouraging and disheartening when you feel like you have got somebody in your life that needs to change but can’t so I hope that it’s a lot more people that aren’t speaking up that are relating to it as well and that it’s helping.

I definitely agree! Hearing someone you know or someone on a platform share a story, a real-life situation is important.

I love the intro, it grabbed my attention right away! It’s so beautiful!

Thank you! It felt like the right mood and the right tone to be very hauntingly simple. In its most raw form I felt it was good to keep it that way to have a bigger impact.

Was it a hard song to write? Whether that be for the personal story behind it or simply took a while or was it something that just fell out with ease?

It was both. The storyline itself took a little bit of time just to make sure we knew exactly how to hook it but once we had figured the story line out, the imagery came really easy. A lot of that from personal experience and I think some of it is just a strength of mine, an ability at least a desire to paint a picture vividly. I really liked that approach to writing and so does James (McNair) . It took us two different writes to get it and we were both on zoom. We were both on zoom for two different sessions and I recorded it at my house, well the majority was at my house. There’s a couple of instruments there that I didn’t play, a pedal steel guitar and a electric guitar. They were done at the studio, otherwise everything was done at the house here.

Can you remember the first line that was written?

Gosh, “Whiskey on the rocks, Diamond on the dresser”. When you think of the rock like the diamond. I like the play on the words there! With the whiskey on the rocks and the diamond on the dresser it felt like a marriage on the rocks.

Very clever!

What was it like to work with Emily Weisband because she is obviously a great writer and singer.

Fantastic, she’s an absolute jewel. I can’t sing enough praises for her talent, her ability, her kindness. She’s everything, she’s awesome!

You’re an independent artist now. I can imagine that that has a lot of high points. I am hearing more and more these days that artists say there’s so much freedom in it. Obviously you don’t have the financial backing as such as you would with a major label but the freedom to be the artist that you want to be and to release what you want to release is what I am hearing more and more.

Yeah! That resonates with me in a way for sure. It’s a give and take. The freedom is there, I don’t have to do anything on anyone else’s time or on anyone else’s vision, it’s all mine, which is awesome! But you definitely don’t have the big, deep pocket and pushing you through the rest of the noise in the crowd, getting you the attention that a big label can. So it’s a trade off and it seems to be what I need in my life right now!

Fans are brilliant too with independent artists and always support albums more I find, especially physical copies and other forms of merchandise. I personally love a kickstarter or something to get something special at a very reasonable price!

I have a lot of monthly listeners on Spotify but that goes up and down. So much of it is algorithms now. I don’t play that game at all, so I feel disconnected from how it all works but it’s working for me. It’s keeping me on the road, keeping fans listening and engaged enough to make it worthwhile to keep it in house right now. If I ever feel the need to switch that up and get more help because something’s not working then I’d have a different opinion but right now it’s mission has been accomplished.

And you probably find you get more home at time with the family too

More time to wipe this boys face from yoghurt haha (wipes sons face). He is a mess, you should see him he is covered in yoghurt.

So how did One Night In Nashville go because that must have been quite hard…

It was but it was really great! The event wasn’t super publisized unfortunately, so I wasn’t blown away by the turn out but the people that were there and the mission behind it was, everyone was united and it was great to be a part of. It’s been such a tragic season here in Nashville. My wife and I are half the time scared to death to send Virginia off to her day care. We live in such a terrible world right now. Change has to happen so I felt like we were attempting to make a change and that felt more purposeful than any show I have done in a long time!

We can’t understand it here in the UK, I don’t have words really, I don’t think you can!

Corruption and money and power. Change won’t happen!

I know! I know!

On a happier note, I was thrilled to see that tweet by Luke Combs sharing his love for Bronco as one of his favourite underrated songs, and the first on his list….

I know! He is such an, he is going to be an iconic legend in country music. His name will be one of the tops I think. Just the same way you think of Chesney and McGraw! If he keeps it up, he is going to be that status. I know that that is going to be something that I will always have! Really proud!

Print it, just in case Twitter goes down haha!


Did you know he was a fan or was that news to you?

No, he had told me before how much he loved that song. The first time that I met him was at a radio show that we were both on in California back in 2016 or 2017. We were waiting for the show to start and were talking a little bit and he was telling me how much he loves that song! Actually James McNair, my co-writer on Diamond on the Dresser is really good friends with Luke and he tells the story too that when he and Luke moved to town, Luke was obsessed with that song and he couldn’t stop listening and he was the one that told James about me.

Oh wow!

Yeah, it goes deep, it has been a long time favourite of his.

Well it is a beautiful song and is one of those songs that is way better then the majority of chart topping songs, it’s so honest and raw. Beautifully sung and beautifully written

Thank you!

Will it lead to a co-write? The three of you even? You, Luke and James?

Oh god, I would love that! I feel like there’s only one degree of separation right now for that to happen!

Well I hope it happens, it will be epic.

Thank you!

Perhaps a tour together in the UK?

I have been trying to get over there, it’s been a bucket list goal for a minute. Trying to make it happen!

Well you’re definitely wanted so please do make it happen!

What are you working on at the moment? Is there an album in the works?

You know I am just trying to focus one song at a time right now. It allows me to not think too far ahead and be in the moment as far as the songs, choosing the right song each time is more important to me than coming up with a whole album!

I like that idea!

Yeah so I think just one at a time for now!

Just a few silly questions really. What was your first memory of country music?

Yeah! It was when I was a kid I was a big fan of all things horses and cowboys like most boys are. There was a movie with George Strait in the 90’s called Pure Country and I really loved that movie. In it, he plays a rodeo cowboy turned superstar singer. The soundtrack is fantastic and it had a song called Cross My Heart on it and I learned it and sang it to my mum on camcorder. I was like 8 years old. Somewhere, I bet that videos on a VHS somewhere! I hope we can dig it up one day because that’s my earliest memories.

I love that story!

Do you remember the first song that you ever wrote and is it out in the world for us all to hear or is it buried deep somewhere?

Hmmm. I wrote one, it was sort of a song to God and I remember it being handwritten on a small piece of paper. I kept it for a while and I might even still have that. It was called Singing Away hahahaha. I must have been five or six years old.

Aww that’s so cute!

What can we expect from your CMA Fest fan party?

It’s going to be awesome! A private event that only 60 people are going to get to go to. I am going to do a solo acoustic set which will be really fun because I do really love that! I feel like I thrive in that environment and I don’t do that a ton. I never play in a room for that small amount of people all by myself. It’s a whole thing that will feel exclusive hopefully to the fans and hopefully it will be a nice intimate set of songs that they have supported all of these years.

It sounds amazing!

Thank you so much for chatting today and hopefully we will see you here soon.

Thank you and thank you for your kind words, it means a lot!

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