Interview: Dustin Lynch’s ‘Tullahoma’ Album Was Inspired by a Guy Like Him
Dustin Lynch had a guy in mind when writing and recording songs for his new Tullahoma album. It's not him, although you'll certainly find similarities — especially on songs about his new girlfriend.
Whether this country fella is someone Lynch even knows is debatable, but the character steered every decision he and producer Zach Crowell made.
"Is this song him? Would he record this song? Would he play this song in his truck with his girl next to him?" the "Ridin' Roads" singer asks. "If all those boxes were checked, then we had one we knew was in the running. If one of those boxes was missing, it didn’t even get tossed into the hat we were looking to record."
With maybe one exception, the 11 songs on Tullahoma (Jan. 17) are extensions of "Small Town Boy," Lynch's second single from Current Mood, but that's where similarities between this project and his last stop. There is far less experimentation here, and all of the R&B vibes that danced alongside those country themes and arrangements last time are on the sidelines.
"Current Mood was a lot of fun to make, but it was all over the map, man. All over the map,” Lynch admits. "But this was fun to do, because I did have that guy — I don’t know if it’s me — I got a mental picture of who that is in my head.”
Okay, so spill it, Dustin — who is this guy?
“I think it’s a lot of people that I know, dumbed down into one guy,” he finally reveals. “I figured it out along the way, because I have close friends that are very honest and open and vocal about my music, and there are certain songs that I know they haven’t reacted to that I thought they were wrong … but most of the time — and for this record that I set out to make — I knew that they would be right on all the songs.”
See Pictures of Dustin Lynch and Girlfriend Kellie Seymour:
One need only look at the song titles to get a sense of what this small town boy is like. "Ridin' Roads" and "Momma's House" are the first two singles from Tullahoma (named after Lynch's real hometown), and after that there's "Dirt Road," a twangy love song called "Old Country Song," a small town what if story with Lauren Alaina called "Thinking 'Bout You," and "Country Star," a song inspired by his current romance with Kelli Seymour.
Lynch tells Taste of Country he wrote "Country Star" song with Florida Georgia Line's Brian Kelley as he was looking to buy his first home and piece of land in rural Tennessee. It's how imagined he and his girlfriend of about a year would spend a country night.
“It hasn’t happened in real life," Lynch says, laughing, “But I’m working on it."
When he's not touring, the 34-year-old admits he spends more than half of his time with her, in Los Angeles, but both have small-town roots.
"There’s a glue, a small-town glue really even outside the songs on this album,” Lynch says, dropping hints that he's not done releasing new music in 2020. "A lot of those places are little convenience stores, and as I do life outside of inner-city Nashville, I realize how much time I spend in those places. Not everywhere I go has a grocery store."
"Red Dirt, Blue Eyes" is the exception to the established style, cut almost like Lynch couldn't help himself. This next-to-last song on Tullahoma does add an R&B beat, but in his defense, it remains true to something his fictional small town boy might listen to in the truck. Only this time, he's in his truck on a Friday night, heading to the club.
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