Chris Young's rain-barrel baritone hasn't gone soprano on Neon.
Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, his third album avoids the overstuffed track lists of some of his contemporaries. That's all for the best since Young is the definition of a radio artist -- most appealing in discrete doses.
For Love or Booze?
Example one: "I Can Take It From Here." It's a twangy line-dancer built for the FM dial, in which a quiet night at home with your girl, "a couple glasses, and a bottle of wine" is Young's idea of a good time.
"When She's On" is another up-tempo ear-catcher, wherein Young marvels at a young lady who can wear "cut-off jeans" and a "Texas Longhorns T-shirt" like no one else -- especially if she's "on that leather couch" and "hummin' along to some old Haggard song." The love song "Lost," about unplugging with the opposite sex, continues in this vein.
To thwart this growing reputation as a homebody, Young serves up "Save Water, Drink Beer." Here, the Texas singer offers a clever solution to local drought problems. Then on "Neon" he advertises the charms of spending the "weekend on the rocks" at your favorite watering hole. (One of the best moments in the album comes when Young rhymes "Neon" with "Johnny Lee on.")
"From the day that we wrote 'Tomorrow," Young told Taste of Country, "I thought [it] was going to be the first single." He was right.
In the months leading up to Neon's release, "Tomorrow" rocketed to number one on the country music charts; it became Young's fastest rising single ever. But the singer is hardly Nostradamus. Any idiot can see that "Tomorrow" is as catchy as a knot of barbed wire, with the scream-sung couplet "But tonight I'm gonna give it one last time / Rock you strong in these arms of mine" serving as adhesive to listeners' brains.
Cut from the same cloth as "Tomorrow" is the impassioned "She's Got This Thing About Her." In case you're wondering, it's not about herpes. Rather, Young pledges his admiration for a woman who "stops time when she moves through a room" and is "always gone too soon."
The fiddle-strung "You" features a laid-back delivery reminiscent of Lyle Lovett as Young talks about the glories of true love. Speaking of which: How do you recognize love when it comes? "When new love feels old / And old feels new," according to, you guessed it, "Old Love Feels New."
Young reminisces about fixing cars with his dad on "Flashlight," which flips the perspective of Trace Adkins's father song "Just Fishin'". It's the only song here that could be classified as filler, but it works.
Even without station identification breaks, Neon is an easy listen -- an affable mix of by-the-books country with few potholes for your drive to the local superstore. While it's an album lacking in big surprises, it has at least one: It's Chris Young's best album yet.
Best Songs on Neon:
- "I Can Take It From There."
- "Save Water, Drink Beer"
Track list for Neon:
1. "I Can Take It from There"
4. "Save Water, Drink Beer"
6. "Old Love Feels New"
9. "When She's On"
10."She's Got This Thing About Her"
Release Date: July 12, 2011