Today sees the release of Tennessee native Dustin Lynch’s 5th album, a sun-drenched, up-beat project in which he had a hand in writing 5 of the 12 tracks, with another 3 featuring collaborations with MacKenzie Porter, Chris Lane and Riley Green.
If you’re familiar with Dustin Lynch’s work, there’s no mistaking that this is by anyone but him from the opening few lines of the first song, ‘Party Mode’. If you weren’t listening closely to the words you’d be forgiven for thinking this was, well, a party song, such is the up-beat nature of it. Lots of twang, and catchy as hell, but it’s actually a break up song, albeit the catchiest, liveliest break up song since Billy Currington’s ‘Love Done Gone’. You’ll be singing along well before the first chorus is over.
The first of the collaborations is with Canadian singer MacKenzie Porter. ‘Thinking ‘Bout You’ is a more mid-tempo song than the raucous opener; it’s chock full of emotion and the two voices play off of each other with such assurance. ‘Stars Like Confetti’ lifts the pace again, and then we move on to what I think is the best song of the collection, ‘Somethin’ That Makes You Smile’, another ode to living your best life, along the lines of Tim McGraw’s ‘Live Like You Were Dying’ or ‘More Time Fishin’ by Thomas Rhett.
“When the good times roll then let ‘em roll,
You’re only here for a little while,
so do something that makes you smile”
It’s a beautiful melody, and the instrumentation is country as hell (this is Dustin Lynch after all!) with soaring fiddles throughout. I could listen to this on repeat for hours.
‘Break It On A Beach’ is another upbeat breakup song, with the man asking why she had to end their relationship at the coast. This is nicely followed up by the second collab, this time with Chris Lane who you may have seen opening up for Brad Paisley at his incredible O2 concert in 2019. ‘Tequila On A Boat’ seems like the perfect follow-up as you can imagine the protagonist from the previous song, having had his relationship end, deciding to head offshore to go and drown his sorrows and maybe start a new one.
‘Tennessee Trouble’ has Lynch lusting over a girl he’s just met who then ups and leaves the next day. A scene that will no doubt be played out countless times this summer. A similar theme is the basis of the next song, ‘Summer Never Ended’, much like Jason Aldean’s ‘A Little More Summertime’ with the singer knowing the end of summer heralds the end of their fling and trying to cling on to it despite the advancing autumn.
Can an album truly be a country album without a song that references other states and what they’re known for, and back roads? Luckily ‘Back Road TN’ has you covered. You’ll find Georgia, Carolina, California, peaches, sunshine and backroads all together in this three and a half minutes worth of country joy.
The final collaboration is with rising star Riley Green. ‘Huntin’ Land’ is what you’d expect from the title and a couple of good ol’ southern boys who love hunting. It’s a humorous look at a relationship with a girl he’s not really happy with, but who’s dad has lots of land so he doesn’t want to finish with her just yet until rifle season is over.
‘Pasadena’ brings the tempo down as Dustin reminisces about a lost summer love. Some gorgeous harmonies from Sarah Buxton and some wonderful strings and banjo licks make this one of the stand-out tracks along with album closer ‘Not Every Cowboy’, which is similar in tone to Jon Pardi’s ‘It Ain’t Always The Cowboy’, with sweeping strings and a soaring chorus. It’s a wonderful way to end what is sure to be one of the albums you’ll be hearing all summer.
Blue In The Sky is the perfect album to listen to when the sun comes out, when the sun goes down, or when you just need a pick-me-up. Releasing it in February gives any singles that may come from it time to gain traction in time for the warmer months, whereupon I’m sure it’ll become a staple at BBQs, tailgates and boat parties, and rightly so.