St. Louis-based singer-songwriter Malena Smith has released her new single, “18.” The song is a look back over the last decade of her life, asking the question, “If I had the chance, would I relive that decade differently?” The weight of the subject matter is juxtaposed by an airy atmosphere and a pop-funk groove.
“My 10-year class reunion was fast approaching and I was feeling both nostalgic and somewhat anxious about the complex connotations behind the event,” Smith recalls. “At 18 years old, I felt that I chose to stay in college after starting to buy myself more time to figure out how to pursue my ultimate goal and dream of being a singer-songwriter. I had no idea what steps to take first or what lane I should take.” Smith concludes that college was a conventional post-high school safety net that was a huge personal and financial commitment to make at the tender age of 18.
“I’m totally for college, but not necessarily the societal pressure surrounding it or depending on where you go the formality/finality/tradition that it entails,” she adds. “One thing that I especially love about the musical aspect of this song is the juxtaposition of a rather daunting or tough subject matter lyrically and laying it over the disco-inspired, airy-feeling, pop-funk instrumentation. This song just feels good to me, in a way that nothing else I’ve made so far does. I keep calling it a ‘summer bop,’ because it feels like the type of song you listen to on a hot day with your car windows down. I hope the story and the feel speak to people the same way they do for me.” “18” follows the release of Smith’s single, “Betray Myself,” a song commemorating the beginning of her sobriety journey.
To hear Malena Smith sing is to savor a voice distilled from every corner of the American songbook. With a background that ranges from jazz to classical, from country to R&B, she is able to blend a rainbow of influences into a seamless and unmistakable sound that is uniquely hers. A classically-trained singer who came up in the world of jazz, Smith has sung in lounges from St. Louis to Tokyo and shared stages with the likes of Michael Bublé, Clark Beckham, and the St. Louis Symphony. “I consider myself a storyteller,” she says. “My music is designed to turn my journey into a shared experience that people can connect with.” She is currently writing and recording a body of work that she sees as “a coming-of-age-in-my-twenties story.” Produced by her mentor Brian Owens as a part of his St. Louis-based ecosystem Life Creative, the project touches on her journey through the struggles and triumphs of a young woman blazing a life and career path in a complicated world.