Fresh off of three consecutive No. 1 singles supporting his breakthrough sophomore album The Man I Want To Be, Chris Young returns with his third studio album, Neon. Produced by James Stroud, the collection showcases Chris’ rich baritone on 10 songs about loving in the moment and taking the time to reflect on what’s truly important.
Many of the songs on Neon take a long look at the right now. After shucking off modern devices like cell phones and GPS units on the mid-tempo track “Lost,” Chris lets it be known where he’d really like to take his date. “No I ain’t got no plan in mind,” he sings. “It’s such a perfect night, so I just thought, we could go get lost.” Chris’s voice and radio-ready Southern drawl is front and center as he weaves effortlessly through a finely-crafted melody, backed by slightly distorted guitars and classic pedal steel.
On songs like the ballad “Tomorrow,” the album’s first single, the Grammy-nominated singer takes another look at living one moment at a time – but from a different perspective. “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,” he sings, while capturing the powerful feeling of knowing the end of a relationship is painfully close.
Born just southeast of Music City in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Chris co-wrote seven of the project’s 10 songs. On the traditional, acoustic-based “Flashlight,” Chris offers a nostalgic look at learning many of life’s lessons hard at work in the garage with his dad. “I guess the stuff that stuck was more about life than fixing cars/ ‘Cause to this day I still can’t make ‘em run right, but I sure did learn a lot just holding a flashlight,” he sings, before divulging lessons about family, finding the woman you love, and even hearing a few new words when his father skinned his knuckles. It’s this ability to craft relatable songs that is a true highlight of the collection.
Amping it up to have some fun, tracks like “Save Water, Drink Beer” work in nice contrast to some of the album’s slower songs. Set off with pounding drums and a mean honky tonk guitar lick, it’s all about saving the environment and ending droughts through the consumption of a few tall cold ones. “We’re goin’ green, hey look at us/ We maybe even doin’ a little too much,” he sings with a heavy dose of twang and good timin’ humor.
Lyrically, the album is very clever. On the title track “Neon,” a laid-back and traditional-flavored piece, colorful images of blue Wyoming skies and orange autumns are off-set by Chris’ favorite color, ‘neon.’ Because, really, what is better than the blinking sign of your favorite honky tonk? Not much, and with a contemporary country album that draws so much from a classic sound, Neon finely upholds the tradition of knowing what’s important while presenting it in the here and now.