Florida-Ge­or­gia Line churns out a low-risk al­bum

Cecil Whig - - JUMPSTART - By Joe antoshak

There’s some­thing to be said about loy­alty — loy­alty to loved ones, loved places, loved things. From An­cient Greece (Damon and Pythias) to con­tem­po­rary United States (pick your poi­son, Rus­sell West­brook is mine), we hu­mans have cel­e­brated loy­alty for at least as long as we’ve been able to record his­tory. It’s a big part of why call dogs our best friends.

This seems to be what coun­try duo Florida-Ge­or­gia Line was af­ter with their third full-length al­bum “Dig Your Roots,” which Big Ma­chine La­bel Group re­leased to­day: loy­alty. Un­for­tu­nately, there’s not much else to sink your teeth into. The al­bum is a catchy, im­pec­ca­blypro­duced, frus­trat­ingly onenote ef­fort.

Brian Kel­ley and Tyler Hub­bard rose to su­per­star- Florida-Ge­or­gia Line’s new al­bum re­veals a some­what more ma­ture Brian Kel­ley and Tyler Hub­bard, but fails to do more than of­fer catchy hooks and oc­ca­sion­ally nice sen­ti­ments.

dom less than five years ago on the power of the an­themic “Cruise,” and haven’t slowed down since. To­day, for bet­ter or worse, they sit near the very top of the coun­try genre.

In re­cent years, they and

the quote-un­quote bro-coun­try genre into which they’re of­ten placed have re­ceived a fair share of crit­i­cism for for­mu­laic song­writ­ing and ob­jec­ti­fy­ing women, and there is some­thing to think about there. Florida-Ge­or­gia Line has never pre­tended to be any­thing else, and their mil­lions of fans don’t seem to mind. The rest of us, how­ever, may want to con­sider the con­se­quences of re­duc­ing women to bikini tops in songs.

Thank­fully, “Dig Your Roots” cap­tures a some­what more re­fined Kel­ley and Hub­bard. There’s still plenty of sex­ual sto­ry­telling (like on “Is­land,” “Sum­mer­land” and “Heat­wave”), but now it’s over­pow­ered by more emo­tional love bal­lads. Both men are mar­ried now and ap­par­ently grow­ing into older selves. The band’s lead sin­gle “H.O.L.Y.,” which has racked up 63 mil­lion views on YouTube since April, takes the feel of a con­tem­po­rary Chris­tian wor­ship song and re-di­rects it to a hu­man lover, some­what like a sub­ur­ban dad joke.

Some of the sen­ti­ments on the al­bum are gen­uinely nice. Lyrics on the ti­tle track, for ex­am­ple, in­clude “I’m so proud of where I came from / This town is who I am / And the way that I was raised up / Made me a bet­ter man.” Maybe one of Florida-Ge­or­gia Line’s most im­por­tant so­cial roles on this al­bum is to en­cour­age home­town pride.

Aes­thet­i­cally, it’s easy to lis­ten to this al­bum. From be­gin­ning to end, it’s tightly pro­duced and in­cred­i­bly smooth. With some 30 song­writ­ers listed for the 15 tracks, it’s thor­ough. There are no glar­ing mis­takes.

But that’s the prob­lem with pop mu­sic — scores of peo­ple work­ing on an al­bum does not guar­an­tee an ex­cit­ing, ar­tis­ti­cally-pro­gres­sive cre­ation. Some­times it just so­lid­i­fies com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity. “Dig Your Roots” is more of the lat­ter.

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