Album Review: Chris Young - A.M.
By: Matt Bjorke
A neo-traditionalist in the truest sense of the Country music style when he started, Chris Young has evolved over the course of his four albums for RCA Records. And while for some the evolution from neo-traditionalist to Country Soulster with a rock-edge would be seen as 'calculated,' it was more of the case of a young singer evolving into himself as an artist, not unlike what Luke Bryan has done with his own career over his four albums.
So, with this evolution in mind, we dig into his fourth album for RCA, A.M. The album stars off with the lead single "Aw Naw" and while there are elements of the mainstream that's currently all dirt roads, fist pumps and pickup trucks, even "Aw Naw," cannot be accused of being such a song. Instead it's more a standard, guy goes to the bar for a few drinks and ends up staying the whole night. Anyone who wasn't a teetotaler in their 20s and 30s probably has lived the song at least once in their life.
The album has a great mix of up-tempo 'party' songs and the powerful ballads that have become one of Chris Young's biggest calling cards. On those up-tempo cuts, Chris delivers songs fans have long heard in his concerts, songs like "We're Gonna Find It Tonight," "Lighters In The Air" and the title track "A.M." join "Aw Naw" in showcasing Chris' ability to sing an uptempo song without having to ever resorting to yelling over music bed while the ballads are where Chris' depth and artistry really shine. "Goodbye" is as strong as any ballad you're gonna hear from any mainstream country artist in 2013 and what's amazing is the same could be said about "Text Me Texas." The latter has a Traditional Country sound to it (without being 'old sounding') that just screams instant classic.
Along with the up-tempo roof rattlers and emotional ballads are a selection of mid tempos which are kinda the sweet spot of Country music in 2013. "Who I Am With You" is as emotional and powerful as any ballad on the radio while "Hold You To It" has a groovy flow to it that just screams radio hit, the same which can be said about "Lonely Eyes" and "Nothin' But The Cooler Left."
The production from veteran producer James Stroud is strong and leaves the best instrument on the album -- Chris Young's voice -- front and center while the collection of songwriters like Johnny Bulford, Chris DeStefano, Ashley Gorley, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Cole Swindell, Marv Green, Jason Sellers, Rhett Akins, Paul Jenkins and Jason Matthews ensure that Chris' has some of the top material available for any artist (he also co-wrote five of the eleven tracks on the album). The CD packaging only adds to the top-notch affair with lyrics, great photos and extensive credits to the fine folks who help bring Chris Young's music to the people.
Everything about A.M. screams star-making and with a hard core collection of fans who already help him headline venues across The USA, Chris Young's only destined for bigger things because of A.M..