Keeping up with Corey

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Entertainment,Music,Nancy Dunham

Corey Smith may have released "Keeping Up With the Joneses" in 2009, but he's already got a brand-new album waiting in the wings.

Credit Smith's infatuation with classic music, including songs by George Gershwin and Ray Charles, with his productivity, which also reflects new musical maturity.

"Of the songs we cut on the new record, half were written in the past six months and show how I've matured as a writer," he said. "The have richer imagery that what I wrote when I was a little younger."

Funny thing about Corey is that he is likely his toughest critic. Although many have never heard of him, he's sold more than 600,000 singles and 100,000 albums -- which have grossed millions annually, strictly through grassroots efforts. "Keeping Up With the Joneses" debuted at No. 1 on iTunes, and his concerts regularly sell out.

Onstage
Corey Smith
Date: 8 p.m. Saturday
Venue: 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW
Info: Sold out at press time, but tickets might be available through resellers; 800-955-5566; 9:30.com

"To me, success is a matter of staying focused on songwriting and continuing to mature artistically," he said. "I try not to think about popularity."

It's likely that "keep it real" philosophy that makes his music so genuine. Consider the title track of "Keeping Up With the Joneses" that was co-produced by Russ-T Cobb.

"[The song] has a lot of literal truths in it and traces a story, so fans of my earlier stuff will find some common ground there," he said. "But there is also a lot beneath the surface that goes a long way toward explaining the values that make me who I am."

It also helps him stretch his creative spirit looking for more resources and exploring various musical avenues to create the sound he wants.

"I have a lot more experience as a producer now so I am able to go in and explore various musical possibilities," he said. "With this album ['Joneses'] I took a lot of changes, overdubbed guitars, keyed a lot of harmonies and took a lot of liberties that I couldn't take in the past."

Yet while he enjoyed and learned from the high-tech experience, Smith found himself craving some back to the roots recording he had done in the past. That's something he changed for his next album.

"While I took advantage of the digital technology that was available, I missed out on the live performance, four or five musicians in one room," he said. "For the new [album] I wanted to get us all in a room where we'd all camp out for a week and take a more traditional approach to recording. ... It has a more organic sound."

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Nancy Dunham

Examiner Correspondent
The Washington Examiner