Dustin Lynch occupies a unique place in today’s country music. Thanks to his classic sensibilities, he’s been heralded as the heir to George Strait’s throne. Yet with one listen to his two-week #1 smash, “Where It’s At,” it’s obvious the young Tennessean knows how to combine his traditional influences with an edgy intensity that places him at the vanguard of today’s contemporary country scene.
It’s that ability to fuse his country roots with a progressive musical vision that makes Lynch one of today’s most successful young artists. His self-titled Broken Bow Records debut hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and the lead single, “Cowboys and Angels,” exceeded platinum sales status while earning Lynch a legion of devoted fans. His follow up single, the sexy up tempo “She Cranks My Tractor,” became a No. 1 video on GAC’s Top 20 Country Countdown and the accolades continued to pour in, among them Rolling Stone heralding Lynch as “The New Hat in Town” in the magazine’s 2013 Best of Rock issue. Lynch’s career momentum continued as he opened for Keith Urban on his recent Light the Fuse Tour and earned critical praise from American Songwriter, Billboard, Country Weekly, Elle, The Los Angeles Times, People and USA Today, to name a few. Lynch’s sophomore album, WHERE IT’S AT, debuted as the #1-selling Digital Country album in the U.S. and earned over 500,000 first-week streams on Spotify.
At the heart of it all stands a young man with an abundance of raw talent and an unwavering work ethic that seized his moment and made the most of it. “It’s crazy what music can do,” Lynch says with a smile. “I’ll do a show and have people come up to me in tears because they are getting to share a story about how my songs have affected their life. That’s so inspiring. I know now that a song can really affect someone’s life and that’s what makes me want to keep doing the best I can do.”
After the tremendous success of his debut album, one might expect Lynch to be nervous about recording his sophomore project. Instead he approached the task with confidence and a renewed sense of purpose. “For me, it’s all about the songs,” he relates. “I’m so confident in these songs, I can’t wait for this album to come out. As a songwriter I want to see what people gravitate towards.”
With it’s upbeat lyric and insinuating groove, people are already gravitating toward the lead single “Where It’s At.” “It just came to life when we were recording it,” Lynch says. “Musically it’s a new groove that we haven’t done before and it’s a sweet song. It says there’s no better place on the planet than with somebody you love. It’s a great message. That’s what I like to do with my music – hopefully impact people in a positive way.”
In recording the new album, Lynch again teamed with Brett Beavers and Luke Wooten, who produced his debut, and also worked with Mickey Jack Cones (Jason Aldean/ Joe Nichols). “Mickey has brought a whole new arsenal of tools to the game and took me to a new place vocally that I haven’t been,” Lynch says. “Brett, Luke and Mickey all have their strengths and I get to have the best of both worlds, so it’s awesome. We’ve got a great partnership.”
As a result, Lynch has crafted a musically inventive and lyrically substantive album filled with memorable songs – and he’s never sounded more seasoned and confident. “Hell of a Night” percolates with an edgy energy while “Sing it to Me” is a song Lynch describes as sexual chocolate. “It’s a song that’s so sexy,” he grins. “It’s about a person that’s poison but you just can’t get enough.”
Another highlight is the beautiful ballad “Your Daddy’s Boots” that chronicles the feelings of a groom as he watches his bride dance with her father, hoping he can fill his boots. “I wrote it with Tim Nichols and Josh Leo, who I wrote ‘Cowboys and Angels’ with. There is some sort of magical thing that happens with those guys,” Lynch says.
“Middle of Nowhere” explores a complicated relationship that Lynch says more closely mirrors his own life. “It’s about being stuck in the friend zone and wondering if you should take a friendship into no man’s land where there’s no return,” he explains with a smile. “Once you kiss a friend, you’re not a friend anymore. All of a sudden you are something bigger and hopefully better, but sometimes it ends up crashing and burning pretty hard. So there’s that fear factor.
Though he didn’t write “What You Wanna Hear,” Lynch says he can relate to the tune penned by Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip and Ashley Gorley. “I’m definitely a down home guy. If I have a day off, I’m driving the country roads just chillin’ out or going home to turkey hunt and going fishing on the river.”
Growing up in Tullahoma, Tennessee, Lynch lived the kind of rural life celebrated by country music and his album reflects those roots. “ ‘After Party’ is me,” he says. “It’s me and my crew back home. We lived for the weekends and Friday night football games. We lived for going out to Lazy Branch Road. We’d go cruising there and then we’d get to the boat ramp where we’d build a fire and drink beer that we snuck away from somebody’s house or bought with a fake ID. We’d play music and try to meet some new girls from the next county over.”
His parents urged him to attend college and get his degree (he graduated Pre-Med from David Lipscomb University) but music was always his dream. He grew up listening to his heroes— George Strait, Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks. “They are such icons and seem so untouchable, but I thought, ‘Man that would be awesome to be like them.’ You just start taking steps,” Lynch says. “I took a step and got in a band in high school. I took a step and came to Nashville and talked my way into the The Bluebird Café. I took another step and recorded a little five-song album in a basement in one day. These are little milestones and you don’t even realize they are huge building blocks to where we are today. It’s always something I dreamed of doing. I’m just glad I was dumb enough to give it a shot.”
Dustin Lynch is living the dream he worked so hard to achieve and he’s happy to walk the line between country music’s past and it’s future, a link between it’s most honored traditions and it’s edgier new direction. “I want to do everything I can possibly do to be the best I can be,” Lynch says. “I never give myself a day off. If you have a list of things that I’ve accomplished, I probably couldn’t tell you a tenth of them because it’s always about what’s happening next. Every time we take that stage is a nice little pat on the back, a nice little present. I love what I’m doing right now. Musically I’ve been blessed to be able to walk a line that is a bit more traditional, but I can sprinkle some newer influences on top of that. I wear a cowboy hat. It’s who I am and weirdly enough, in country music cowboy hats are few and far between right now. I’m glad it’s that way. The door is open for a young guy like me to come in and carry that torch. I’m happy to do so.”