Did you know I ran a country music news website back in the day? It started off as a MySpace page (!!!) and blew up into a full-blown website. I posted news articles, interviewed artists, wrote album and show reviews, and had a decent following at one point. I let it go after I started working for Great American Country back when it was country music and while I don’t believe in having regrets, not keeping up with that website is as close to having a regret as I can get.
You may have noticed I’ve been sharing book reviews as of late. It occurred to me on a recent flight back to Los Angeles from my beloved Nashville that I could do it again – I could write album and show reviews, share the music and artists I’m loving right along with the books and TV shows I’m watching.
So that’s what we’re going to do. I already get enough flack for being a country music fan and a southern girl (currently) living in Los Angeles. May as well lean into who I am a little harder, right?
First album review?
Blue In The Sky, the latest release from Dustin Lynch.
Dustin Lynch is that guy that flies just under the radar. He’s a reliable hitmaker. If you listen to country music, you probably know his songs: “Cowboys and Angels.” “Where It’s At.” “Hell Of A Night.” “Seein’ Red.” “Small Town Boy.” “Good Girl.” “Ridin’ Roads.”
You’re humming one of those right now, aren’t you?
“Ridin’ roads, that don’t nobody go down, a little trip through the country side…”
It’s been ten years since Dustin’s self-titled debut album, and the hits have kept coming. He’s steady and sure and while I’ve never met the guy, I get that vibe from him as a both a person and a performer. A solid guy you can depend on. There had to be some pressure ahead of the release of Blue In The Sky. “Thinking ‘Bout You” was a huge hit and Dustin and his team had a lot of momentum going into his new album with a well-timed (strategic?) release of the project just as “Thinking ‘Bout You” peaked.
Blue In The Sky is Dustin Lynch’s best album yet.
I rarely listen to an album top to bottom more than once, but I’ve found myself gravitating back to Blue In The Sky time and time again and listening to it all the way through. No skips. I listened to top to bottom straight through twice on my flight from Nashville to Los Angeles recently and have added several songs to my “Current Favorites” playlist on Spotify.
Blue In The Sky opens with “Party Mode,” a catchy song about getting over a breakup with alcohol and good times. It’s the kind of song that could be cheesy, but Dustin – who admitted he’s sort of the character of this song after a recent breakup – pulls it off. I dare you to listen and not catch yourself walking around your house humming “party mode, party mode, party mode…” under your breath afterward.
Or is that just me?”
“Stars Like Confetti” is that song you listen to and just know it will be a hit. I find myself dancing along to it whenever it comes on shuffle, whether I’m washing dishes or sitting on the 405 wondering why we can’t approach driving in L.A. like a team sport instead of every man for himself. “Break It On A Beach” was inspired by Dustin’s breakup which did, in fact, happen on a beach. While he was the one to break it off, the song is written from her point of view.
My favorite track from Blue In The Sky is “Tennessee Trouble.” No one is surprised with a name like that, are they? I mean, I have the Tennessee Tristar tattooed on my side. Of course I’m going to love it. It’s the story of one incredible night at a bar that was a memory come morning. Dustin had me at the title, but he kept me with that “got me seeing Rocky Top double” line.
“Back Road TN” paints the picture of the perfect Tennessee night (I miss those…) and “Tequila On A Boat” featuring Chris Lane will have you singing along. I didn’t want to like “Huntin’ Land” with Riley Green based purely on the title (I know, judging a book by its cover and all…) but then I gave it a listen and had to concede that the tune about a guy putting up with his high maintenance girlfriend just because her daddy has hunting land won me over. It’s clever and I not only know “that guy,” I’ve been the girl with the dad who has huntin’ land.
Blue In The Sky ends with “Not Every Cowboy,” a love song that is guaranteed to make women everywhere swoon and the perfect complement to “Cowboys And Angels.” It has the feel of country ballads from days gone by and conjures up images of slow dancing in the headlights of a field in the middle of nowhere. In my head, it makes a great soundtrack for an epic Yellowstone scene too.
I scored two tickets to see Dustin perform the album live at iheartradio’s release party, but was forced to pass because of this whole school thing I have going on. I’ve never seen Dustin live though and he has a few California shows in March and May… Might have to take a road trip?
Blue In The Sky is Dustin’s best album yet. There’s an authenticity there that his previous albums perhaps touched on but never quite fully embraced. It’s the kind of authenticity that comes with age, experience, and coming into one’s own, and it shines through on this album. I feel like I know more of who Dustin is as both an artist and a person with this release. Give it a listen.
And someone at least nominate Dustin Lynch for an award? I’ll save the soapbox for another day, but I got curious and looked up his awards nomination history. It’s sparse for someone who has enjoyed several no. 1s, headlined tours, been invited to join the Grand Ole Opry… B
And you know, since shooters gonna shoot… Dustin, if you’re reading this, my daddy’s got huntin’ land. And friends with more huntin’ land. And a best friend that’s an award-winning taxidermist…