Two years have passed since Florida Georgia Line released their second album Anything Goes. It continued to build on the huge success of their debut album Here’s To The Good Times, which sold over 2 million copies in the US alone. The duo – Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley – have established themselves as one of the biggest acts in Country music and every time they release anything, it’s become a bit of an event. Following the huge success of number one single H.O.L.Y., the band has released new album Dig Your Roots.
Dig Your Roots promises to break some new ground for Florida Georgia Line and it doesn’t disappoint. One of the things you immediately notice is that Brian Kelley’s voice gets much more opportunity to shine across the album. On the band’s past albums, Kelley has served more as a harmony singer but on this record he gets to take the lead and it adds a different dimension to the band’s sound. Title track Dig Your Roots starts with Kelley on lead and his voice is smoother and dare we say more R&B than Hubbard’s.
H.O.L.Y. was a clever lead single to choose from the album. It’s the perfect bridge from Anything Goes to Dig Your Roots but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was reflective of what the album is about or that it’s the best track included here. There’s no doubt though that it’s a song that was made with commercial success in mind and it achieved that objective with relative ease.
The order of the day for Dig Your Roots is variety and it seems that Florida Georgia Line is keen to prove there is more to them than bro-country. There’s no denying that they have contributed to blurring the lines of Country music by incorporating other genres, and they continue to do that on Dig Your Roots. Life is a Honeymoon incorporates reggae rhythms and features Ziggy Marley while God, Your Mama ,and Me sees the duo teaming up with the Backstreet Boys for a classic sounding ballad.
Some of the album’s most interesting moments come when Kelley takes lead. Island is a seductive R&B influenced track that is an early standout and While He’s Still Around finds the star singing an emotive song about his father. It’s true to say that his voice doesn’t have quite the impact that Hubbard’s does but as Hubbard often takes the lead, it makes an interesting change and takes the band in a slightly new direction.
Elsewhere on the record Tim McGraw appears on second single May We All, Summerland is a classic Florida Georgia Line jam that could have appeared on Anything Goes, and Smooth opens the album on perhaps the most Country-sounding track included here. Things come to a close with the dreamy Heatwave, featuring Kelley once again on lead, which harks back to a 90s R&B sound and is one of the strongest tracks here.
Inevitably Florida Georgia Line’s detractors will criticise the band for straying even further from Country but surely music is at its most exciting when it isn’t adhering to strict rules? It would have been easy for the band to try and recreate their previous albums but I commend them for forging a new sound that keeps them interesting and is sure to ensure they stay at the top of their game. Dig Your Roots is an album that is surprisingly personal, richly varied and shows that Florida Georgia Line are about much more than parties, women and drinking beer.
Track Listing: 1. Smooth 2. Dig Your Roots 3. Life Is A Honeymoon 4. H.O.L.Y. 5. Island 6. May We All (feat Tim McGraw) 7. Summerland 8. Lifer 9. Good Girl, Bad Boy 10. Wish You Were On It 11. God, Your Mama, And Me (featuring Backstreet Boys) 12. Music Is Healing 13. While He’s Still Around 14. Grow Old 15. Heat Wave Record Label: Big Machine Release Date: 26th August 2016