The doorbell rings and you answer the door, one October Friday 13th, to an effervescent eighteen year old niece, who’s arrived early for her hair appointment with you. ‘Did you hear Russell Dickerson’s new album yet? Yours has just been released today and I love it!!!! There are some gorgeous love songs. Here.’
She charges past you to your docking station and sets up her phone so you can share her enthusiasm. You’d never even heard of him until five minutes ago. You continue prepping your at-home salon.
The opening track, Every Little Thing, has a finger snap and a whistle beat, that your niece keeps perfect time to, singing along to the lyrics , ‘My baby she’s Alabama/A dixie land delight, kissin’ me like molasses/Slow and sweet , hmhm, just right’ as she dances around the kitchen to the up tempo beat.
‘Well alright, then, who is Russell Dickerson?’ you ask.
She grabs your phone and flashes an image of the album: a sky-blue background and a stylish man, wearing a pastel-blue bomber jacket, appear before you. At the same time she gushes that the title track, Yours, is up next, and she assures you that everyone is playing the song at their wedding. She will at hers, too, she suspects.
A soft piano and guitar intro plays through your speaker, and your niece sings along to the nicely alliterative lyrics, ‘I was a boat stuck in a bottle/That never got the chance to touch the sea’. You can see the radio and commercial – not to mention marital – appeal of this love song, as the lyrics continue, ‘I came to life when I first kissed you/The best me has his arms around you’.
You seat your niece in a chair in front of a large mirror as the next track begins, Blue Tacoma. Your hips sway as you recognise a good, driving, truck song. It would also sound good on the radio, especially in the summer sun.
‘Will you take me to Nashville to see him?’ Your niece asks.
‘Sure, hon.’ She knows you’d do anything for her. ‘So what do we know about him?’
‘He’s had a couple of EPs out; Die to Live Again about six years ago, and Yours last year – that’s how come so many brides are first-dancing along to Yours already.
‘He’s been on the road with Canaan Smith – that man is fiiiiiine.’ You’re inclined to agree. ‘Oooh, says here they both graduated from Nashville’s Belmont University, although in different years.
Her fingers continue scrolling as the lively Billions plays next, and you attempt to cut your niece’s long brown hair in time to her nods. Thankfully, a slow R’n’B-type track follows, All Fall Down, and you try not to think of the lyrics your niece is humming along to, ‘Baby I don’t want nothing on me but you’. A pretty sexy love song; you’re pleased to return to country roots with Float: ‘take me to the Redneck Riviera…we’re gonna float / like an ice cube in my Jack and Coke’.
‘He is Nashville born and based, and signed with the Triple Tigers label’ your niece interjects.
As the rest of the album plays you’re reminded of the love songs you were hooked on in the mid-nineties, at around the same age as your niece: Michael Bolton and Richard Marx had a lot of Walkman-playing time. You drift back into the room and your scissor accuracy is abandoned as you both dance around the room to the kick-drum and guitar-laced Twentysomething – good harmonies in the production of the song about marriage.
‘Great, right?’ your niece asks, as she sits back down in the chair. You nod your head as you think through your answer, unwilling to crush her passion.
‘I liked Twentysomething. And Float. And Blue Tacoma.’ You’re always going to like a song about a truck. She’s happy with your choices.
The last song plays and it sounds familiar – yes, it’s the Wedding Edition of Yours. As you sing along with your niece, you appreciate that country crosses genres, bringing in new listeners and connecting them with their upcoming life events. Your niece is at the crossroads of first love and excitement, and that’s just where she needs to be.
She hugs you goodbye, realigning her headphones as she dances out of the door, no doubt playing the album right through again.