Dustin Lynch, Current Mood | Album Review
Dustin Lynch delivers an enjoyable, third LP with ‘Current Mood,’ showcasing his talent and willingness to experiment and evolve country music.
Looking at Dustin Lynch, it would seem that the handsome, 32-year old country artist would be a surefire superstar. No, looks aren’t everything, but Lynch fits the country male profile. Besides that, good ole southern boy sensibility, he also has the voice. Throughout his third studio album, Current Mood, he showcases his talent, as well as a willingness to bend traditional definitions of country music. Not everything works seamlessly for Dustin, but more often than not, the Current Mood is a good one.
“I’d Be Jealous Too”
“I’d Be Jealous Too” kicks Current Mood off surprisingly smoothly. The first thoughts listening to this particular track is – this isn’t your father’s country music. Honestly, initially, it could be mistaken for an urban pop song. As it progresses, more countrified cues come into play, namely the heavy guitars. Throughout the verses, Lynch sings with great agility – the melody is quite rhythmic.
If “I’d Be Jealous Too” is a bit off-putting, “Seein’ Red” is a bit more traditional. It’s not throwback – there are still some modern touches – but it also doesn’t alienate a purist country audience. From the jump, “Seein’ Red” is energetic, featuring a driving, rhythmic groove. Interestingly, it’s set in a minor key, giving it a notably darker sound. Lynch plays off of the edginess well, giving a commanding, expressive vocal performance. It’s fun, energetic, and sexy without crossing any lines.
“Small Town Boy”
“Small Town Boy” shines, plays directly to Lynch’s southern roots. Rather than employing the modern bag of pop tricks, he keeps things ‘country.’ He’s southern, from a small town, and that’s what she wants. Not only is that what she wants, but that’s also what a traditional country audience wants. It may be platitudinous, but southern charm and southern-ality go a long way in country music. The chorus is a huge selling point on this stand out.
On “Why We Call Each Other,” Lynch sings in his lower register. This contrast adds a bit of mysteriousness, and eliminates predictability early on. “Why We Call Each Other” has a bit more of a modern vibe, noticeably the drums and incorporating synths. Even using some modern tricks, there’s still a sufficient number of cues that make this fundamentally fit the country idiom.
“Here We Come” comes off a bit clunky initially. Like “Why We Call Each Other,” synths and some modern tricks fuel some of the fire. Here, it works moderately well, but it’s no surefire thing.
“Love Me or Leave Me Alone”
“Love Me or Leave Me Alone” is a gem, period. Lynch maintains a sense of traditional country sensibilities, eschewing the trickery of the so-so “Here We Come.” “Love Me or Leave Me Alone” delivers the good with its beautiful, powerful, and thoughtful balladry. Vocally, Lynch impresses, showcasing a ripe set of nuanced country pipes. Arguably, this is his best performance of the album – his tour de force.
Experimentation and modern trickery return on “Back on It.” Unlike the more mixed results that precede it, “Back on It” sounds fresh. Vocally, Lynch possesses a sexiness, which blends well with the R&B sound and vibe constructed here. The chorus, like many throughout the album, infuses more of a country palette, hence, pulling off a successful balancing act between old and new.
It’s rare when beer doesn’t come into the mix. Naturally, “I Wish You Were Beer” solves that problem. While Lynch makes references to beer, he’s ultimately talking about a girl. See the chorus:
“I wish you were beer, I wish I was drinking / I wish you were here, but since you ain’t, I’ve been thinking / I wish I could let go, and you just disappear / If you gotta be that cold, if you gotta be that cold / I wish you were beer, I wish you were beer.”
It’s a bit corny – tongue-n-cheek – but definitely fun and catchy.
“State Lines” is more serious. There’s a clear R&B influence, namely within the groove. Even so, urban sensibilities don’t override the ‘country sensibilities.’ Vocally, Lynch remains dedicated to his roots, while the chorus amps up the guitars. “Party Song” returns to the tongue-n-cheek nature of “I Wish You Were Beer,” intensifying the silliness to the nth degree. For some, it may be cringe-worthy, but personally, it’s irresistible. It’s well-produced, Lynch has buckets of personality, and following a song that’s a bit too serious, this is lighter, dumber, and care-free.
“New Girl” is smooth and well performed, though not game changing or necessarily a standout. Penultimate record “Why Not Tonight” has some oomph, thanks to its lazy groove and rockin’ guitars. It’s the best of the final trio of songs, if for no other reason than Lynch’s reference to YOLO. Closer “Sun Don’t Go Down on That” is a bit different – some will love it, others will hate it. Nonetheless, vocally, Lynch sounds excellent.
All in all, Current Mood ends up being an enjoyable, respectable album. Like many contemporary country albums, Dustin Lynch takes plenty of liberties with the definition of what country music is. Some experimentation naturally works better than others. His best moments, however, are the more traditional ones, such as “Small Town Boy” and the fantastic “Love Me or Leave Me Alone.” Regardless, plenty to like about Current Mood and of course, Lynch himself.
Gems: “Seein’ Red,” “Small Town Boy,” “Love Me or Leave Me Alone,” “Back on It” & “Party Song”