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Album Spotlight: Chris Young, ‘A.M.’

RCA Nashville

For all the talk of a rowdier set of songs, Chris Young‘s ‘A.M.’ is still built upon concepts introduced during ‘Neon’ and ‘The Man I Want to Be.’ The guitars get a workout on ‘Aw Naw’ and one or two others, but no one is going to call Young country’s next rocker.

The heart of this record is still the love (or lost love) songs, and all but one find him in the arms — or wishing he was in the arms — of a pretty lady. ‘Hold It to You’ begins with, “Girl, you wear the hell out of that dress” and never cools off. It’s a mid-tempo shuffle similar to ‘You,’ but much more sensual.

‘Goodbye’ is the greatest vocal showcase. Young spends an eternity showing off his high end without sacrificing emotion. The album’s softest track may be the most memorable — ‘Forgiveness’ is a song Young may not have noticed two or five years ago. He steps back from the microphone to deliver the understated performance the project needs.

Found a quarter on the sidewalk / A love letter in a shoe box / I found a snake underneath a rock / Wish I could find forgiveness,” he sings over banjo and mandolin.

Young helped write six of the 11 tracks on ‘A.M.,’ which is about his average. He’s written seven of his 10 singles, however, and virtually all of his biggest hits. Given his success lately, look for that trend to continue.

Tracks to Remember: ‘Hold You To It,’ ‘Goodbye,’ ‘Text Me Texas,’ ‘Forgiveness’

Chris’ Favorite Is: ‘Text Me Texas’ is one that the singer loves, even though it likely won’t be a single. “It’s one of those songs where I said, “Damn, why didn’t I write that?” he told Pollstar about what is probably the most traditional song on ‘A.M.’

Star Power: Among the hitmakers who pitched in to help write songs on ‘A.M.’ are Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins and ‘Chillin’ It’ singer Cole Swindell.

Did You Know?: In an interview with Taste of Country, Young listed Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert as the top three active vocalists in country music. When asked if he considered himself among the best, he said no.

Next: See the Best Country Albums of 2013 (So Far)

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