A Heart on Display

I grew up listening to country music. Like seriously, I grew up on it; the first time I heard a genre of popular music besides country music was in fifth grade and it changed my life. However, as I’m sure many people can relate, there is something about staying true to where you come from. For some people, staying true to their roots is essential to their personal identity. This is part of what country music is to me.

100-years-of-beautyWith that being said, every aspect of culture goes through evolution. Mode.com creates a series of videos that showcase this exact idea of cultural evolution including aspects such as: “100 Years of Fashion,” in all its many manifestations “100 Years of Wedding Dresses,” and many others. While I grew up listening to country music singers like: Kenny Chesney, Shania Twain, George Strait, Martina McBride, Toby Keith, Faith Hill and the like, today, country music has a whole new face and a whole new sound.

Field at sunset, focus on foreground plants

Part of that sound is no sound. What I mean by this is that so many country music artists are bringing in new dynamics to their music, and there is no one true thing that makes country music distinct. Some artists like Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris, and Brantley Gilbert have the tradtional southern twang, steady rhythm of the much loved country style. While others like Colt Ford and Taylor Swift flip traditional country music conventions on its head, developing music with crossovers into pop and rap music.

Every year, new artists enter the country music scene and do some awesome things. In 2010, a band named Florida Georgia Line produced a hit song, “Cruise,” that blew up in the music industry. They haven’t stopped producing hit songs since. They are known as a bro-country group mixing hip-hop, rock, and country sounds to make something uniquely theirs.fgl

Their 2016 album, Dig Your Rootshas been hugely popular so far, and personally, I’m obsessed. Almost every song is worthy of notice. They are catchy, and the music is an interesting blend of several different sounds, and rhythm types. A commonality among several songs is to reach out to other artists for features. What’s interesting, though, is the features on the album support the outreach to other artists, and to the blending of music cultures. The album features: Tim McGraw, reaching into traditional country music, Ziggy Marley, reaching into the Jamaican/Reggae area, and the Backstreet Boys, reaching firmly into pop culture.

tim-mcgrawbackstreet-boysziggy-marley

The reason I am so partial to this album, however, isn’t its mix of musical flavor, but its theme, its message. All of the songs seem to speak to one idea in some way or another: they are all emotionally charged, they all demonstrate a heart on display from love, to life, to family. So, while the crossover vibe of many songs may seem to take the music out of the country sphere, these themes bring them firmly back into it, and this, as well as the topics of the songs, resonates with me in a big way.

This is definitely a date night album. Tyler Hubbard and Brian “BK” Kelley’s big focus in many of the songs is on love, and, presumably, on their significant others. Out of the 15 tracks on the album, 11 of them are exclusively holylove songs. This does not mean that they all sound the same, or look at love the same way. Most of them have a mature take on it, and focus on not just dating or lust, but building a life with someone and fighting through the hard times. “H.O.L.Y” is literally a hymn of complete devotion to a person, and it was their first hit single off this album. While “Grow Old” is a statement of lifelong devotion, through hard times and good, family building and doubts. However, “Wish You Were On It” is a song of pain, loss, and desire for things to go back to how they used to be. In terms of love songs, this album has something for everyone (even a catchy Backstreet Boys fix).

Life and family are the other predominant, though less talked about, themes on the album. “Dig Your Roots” and “May We All” take the listener back to their hometowns, make them yearn to go back to simpler times and get away from life. They are fun to listen to, and make me think about where I’m at and where I’m headed in life. The two songs that have probably the biggest potential impact, while-hes-still-aroundespecially on me, stand alone.
“While He’s Still Around” is a very emotional experience for me because my father has just recently been diagnosed with cancer, and the song is essentially saying pay attention while he’s still here. The power of the song and message are incredibly vivid and effecting. The last is “Music is Healing,” quite similar to “Lullaby” by Nickelback, but with a country twang and impactful presentation. It’s all about pushing forward when you have nothing left to give, and finding a reason to do so, even when there might not be one. It’s about relying on music when your world may be falling apart.

The album is fun, sensual, and powerful. It’s a mix of many different sounds and ideas. It can help listeners get through tough times in life and relationships, and it helps make sense of the world, in a way. It’s a heart on display and I thank Tyler and BK for showing me their hearts, and for making mine feel so calm.

Dig Your Roots is unique, and it, currently, has a permanent home in my CD player in my car. I recommend everyone to take a listen, I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Rating: 9/10

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