Chris Young follows an emerging trend among country artists today, but this is not a negative one. Following in the footsteps of Trace Adkins, Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, and Josh Turner, Young is not creating the music everyone else is, but is instead distinguishing himself by having a unique voice. He has become one of those artists who, even having never heard the song before, you can identify him just by how he sings.
"Neon", Young's third album, follows "The Man I Want To Be", which produced three number ones ("Getting You Home", "The Man I Want To Be" and "Voices"). With "Neon", Chris picks up right where he left of, relying on his voice to serenade the ladies and talk about the advice he has received over the years. Unfortunately, it debuted the same week as Blake Shelton's "Red River Blue", so it debuted at #2 on the country albums and #4 overall. So, how does this album stack up against his breakout sophomore album?
I Can Take It From There - The lead off song takes its cues from Joe Nichols' "Gimme That Girl" as well as Young's own "Gettin You Home" and the tempo falls somewhere in between the two. The singer decides that it would be more fun to shun the big party or the restaurant and stay home with his baby. The song does a good job of setting the tone for the rest of the album, but it still does not do enough to hook the listener right from the start.
Lost - Chris Young is definitely all about just spending some one-on-one time with his baby. This time, instead of staying home, he wants to get lost in every way imaginable, physically, mentally and emotionally as he sings about losing himself "Down some old back road/ Lost in a song on the radio/ Lost in your deep blue eyes". The song is a little more fun than "Take It From There", and listeners will quickly learn the words and find themselves singing along.
Tomorrow - Everybody has found themselves there, broken, and wanting just one more night before they truly accept the end of a relationship. Young's first single from "Neon" (currently #2 on the charts) is about just that. He knows the relationship has run its course, that there is no salvaging it, but he still wants one more night to forget it all, including the morning after, before he finally lets go. "But tonight I'm gonna give in one last time/ Rock you strong in these arms of mine/ Forget all the regret that is bound to follow/ We're like fire and gasoline/ I'm no good for you/ You're no good for me/ We only bring each other tears and sorrow/ But tonight, I'm gonna love you like there's no/ Tomorrow". In a genre full of sad songs, Chris Young stands out as someone who rather than just wishing for one more night, takes the opportunity that he has and you can feel the emotion and imagine him the next morning thinking, "okay, maybe TOMORROW".... But for now, enjoy the music video:
Save Water, Drink Beer - Young's town is in the midst of a four-month drought, but the singer has found the solution to preserve the environment, and it is an enjoyable one at that. Save Water is easily the most fun song on the album, but for that reason, it feels out of place in its position. The song will definitely catch on in the bars for years to come if it becomes a single (which it should!)
Neon - The title track to the album returns to the slower pace that Chris is known for. This ode to bars is fits well among the likes of Jamey Johnson and other slow drinking tunes. As Young sings, one can imagine an run down honkytonk full of men trying to drown their troubles away, and you will find yourself swaying with it as you cradle your drink in both hands.
Old Love Feels New - Grandpa's stories come into play, as he relates to Young how he and his grandma met, and how he knew from the start that she was the one, saying "That's how you know..... / You feel like she's always been in your soul...../ That's how you know it's true/ When an new love feels old/ And an old love feels new".
You - Chris does not relent on the love songs, this time telling his own woman how he knows that she is perfect for him, even making him change his ways "I used to rush off for work and get home late/ but now I show up late and rush back home". This feels like the type of song for spontaneous serenading from a guy to a girl, it is catchy and easy to learn. Nothing special, but still a good song.
Flashlight - Shortly after learning a lesson from his grandfather, the singer's dad makes an appearance. Young's "Flashlight" feels like a mix between "Dashboard" and "Voices" off of his previous album, as he sings about the lessons about life that his dad taught him while working on his truck. Young admits that even to this day, he cannot fix a vehicle, but he "Sure did learn a lot/ Just holding the flashlight". The song is a feel good song, and will even make you laugh at the end of the second verse: "Then I asked him about women, and he just laughed/ Said if we stayed out here all year/ We wouldn't have time enough for that"
When She's On - This is one of my favorite songs from the album, because I live it every day (yes Lynzee, I mean you). The verses all describe his lady as she is turning heads when she is trying, but even that does not compare to the version he sees when she is really on, not trying to look pretty, and just having a natural beauty to her in her laid back style. Young sings "When you see her dressed to kill/ And it drops your jaw/ You ought to see her when she's on that leather couch/ reading that fairy tale, that's when she's on". Every guy can relate to this, because every guy knows a girl like this. I am just lucky enough to have one.
She's Got This Thing About Her - Young closes the album with one more serenade about his girl. He just cannot describe what makes her special, but he is going to do his best to try. You get the feeling that he could just carry on and on and on about her and still never touch on what it is that he loves about her. It is a beautiful song to end the album with.
Overall, "Neon" is not an overly catchy album, but it does not need to be. Chris Young has established himself as the type of singer who is more comfortable singing to a woman, and definitely has the voice to make their legs weak. Look for a lot of the same in the future, as Young has found his zone, and is sure to sell out record stores and concerts for years to come. 7.5/10
This weekend, I will be reviewing Brad Paisley's latest album, "This Is Country Music" as well as Justin Moore's "Outlaws Like Me"