Two-and-a-half years in the making, Story incorporates more rock influences than Green, released in April 2012. Smith says the new sound is a product of increased collaboration between the group’s five members and hard work. “We liked our [first] album, but it was definitely a strange presentation,” he says. “It was kind of country meets Euro-indie-folk-pop.”
The band wrote Green in Nashville, where the location and collaborative artists shaped some of the group’s early sound. “We brought our band together four years ago—it was me and four other guys, and we didn’t have an identity,” Smith says. “But we had great relationships.”
Smith isn’t apologizing for the first album—he knows some fans really identified with it—but feels the second album is a better representation of band’s personality and what each of its members does best. “We want it to land deeply in people,” he says.
Smith wrote 65 new tracks for Story, only 13 of which made it into the sophomore album, and the final product is more an evolution in sound than a departure from the group’s country roots. Smith’s vocal style still brings a tinge of his Texas upbringing into every track, especially mid-album offerings like “Forever Seventeen” and “Indiana Moon.” Lyrically, Story delves into lifelong relationships with family members and religion, the pressure to bring up the next generation right, and finding a niche to grow into.
Smith hopes the Traders Point concert not only draws fans of the first album but brings new listeners to the band’s music. “I love that our new album will be some people’s first impression of us,” he says.