A young country singer-songwriter who’s already scored three No. 1 hits, Chris Young follows Nashville formula without succumbing to it. His love song-filled new album, Neon, obviously caters to commercial ambition, but Young’s easy warmth and sincerity plus well-crafted songs and production make the thing work.
Singing in an amiable, good old boy baritone of the kind long embraced by country radio, Young opens Neon with the dependably catchy country-pop of “I Can Take It From There.”
“Grab a couple of glasses and a bottle of wine,” he breezily tells his lover. “Baby, while you’re at, you might as well let your hair down.”
The same dynamic plays in “Lost,” in which Young and his girl get away from it all for quality time alone. They get lost in a song on the radio, he gets lost in her deep blue eyes.
There’s nothing novel in the ballad, “Tomorrow,” one of the album’s few dark songs, but Young, as always, sells his material, expressing lyrics about a man who knows he must leave but desperately wants to stay with convincing heart.
Talented though Young is, he doesn’t necessarily distinguish himself from other male singers on country radio these days, one example being this album’s Eagleslike title track, “Neon.” And his beer song, “Save Water, Drink Beer,” is more obligatory than inspired. On the other hand, “Old Love Feels New,” which could have been generic in the hands of a lesser singer, stirs the intended emotional response.
Following contemporary country blueprints as well as he does and, at best, making them new again, this 2006 winner of the TV talent show Nashville Star who moved on to recording stardom seems an obvious choice for next year’s Bayou Country Superfest at Tiger Stadium.