[Rating: 3.5 stars]
Neon is the third album by 2006 Nashville Star winner and Grammy-nominated country vocalist Chris Young. On the verge of scoring his fourth consecutive number one single with “Tomorrow,” Young, who hails from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is acutely aware that now is the perfect time to up the musical ante, and it appears he’s done just that. This time out, Young co-wrote seven of the album’s ten tracks with some of the best tunesmiths Nashville currently has to offer, making this his best and most ambitious album yet.
Neon gets kick-started with the fast-paced, sexual innuendo laden “I Can Take it From There,” written by Young, Rhett Akins, and Ben Hayslip. The upbeat ditty comes on strong and immediately sounds like the obvious choice for his next single. “Grab a couple glasses and a bottle of wine/Walk down the hall and turn down the lights/Baby, while you’re at it you might as well let down your hair/And I can take it from there,” sings Young in a deep, throaty, baritone that is 100% genuine country.
Keeping things flowing along in a playfully romantic mood is “Lost,” which was co-written by Young and Brad Paisley’s key songwriting partner Chris DuBois. “No I ain’t got no plan in mind/It’s such a perfect night/So I just thought we could get lost.” The lyrics may not sound like Shakespeare, but they make one hell of a great country hook.
Slowing things down is the previously mentioned romantic ballad and lead off track “Tomorrow,” which is Young’s fastest rising single to date and really highlights the vocalist’s country chops, while demonstrating he can deliver a ballad with both ease and sincerity.
Neon’s pace quickens again with “Save Water, Drink Beer,” which unfortunately follows the current country trend of less than spectacular formulaic beer drinking anthems. Although it sounds a bit unoriginal and redundant, it’s sure to raise a crowd’s energy level during live sets on Young’s upcoming tour.
The album’s title song, written by Shane McAnally with Josh Osborne and Trevor Rosen, is another standout. This mid-tempo number focuses your attention onto the real star attraction of the album, which is Young’s superb voice and undeniable vocal skills. “Neon, the light they always leave on/A weekend on the rocks/An old school jukebox/It’s the buzz I love to be on/The light at this end of the tunnel is neon.” Also not to be missed is the bouncy “You,” co-penned by Young and ace songwriter Luke Laird, which already sounds like it’s destined for country radio playlists and honky tonk dance floors.