Since the release of his debut album in 2017 and the runaway success of break-out hit ‘My Girl’ a lot has happened to Dylan Scott. He told us in an interview last year, ‘That last album I released was three or four years ago, and in three or four years I’ve had babies and I’ve grown as an adult. The music I think is a little more mature in a good way. I’m very curious to get it out. I think it’s my best batch of music I’ve ever recorded so I’m really excited about it.‘ He’s not wrong there either, ‘Livin My Best Life’ is a big step forward for Scott and should see him gain both fan & critical acclaim for its muscle, melody and maturity.
With seven tracks from the album already released this is one of those rare albums that actually benefits from having too many songs on it. Not being a fan of albums over 12 tracks in length I usually deduct a star from the ratings for that to begin with but the addition of nine more quality songs to the ones already in the public domain is a real treat. Scott has taken a massive step forward in the evolution of his career on ‘Livin My Best Life’ and one of the reasons for that is use of writers this time around. HARDY, Ernest, Hunter Phelps, Ben Johnson, Thomas Rhett, Tyler Hubbard, Brian Kelley and even Morgan Wallen all feature across the songs on offer here, moving Scott’s sound from a kind of Russell Dickerson-esque ‘love songs’ style to something much more meaty. There’s more breadth, variation and depth on ‘Livin My Best Life’ than on anything Scott has released before in the past and though it’s still too long at 16 tracks, there’s plenty on offer here to please & delight even the most jaded of Country music fans.
The first half of the album is jam-packed with muscle. Tracks like ‘New Truck’, ‘Amen to That’, ‘In Our Blood’ and ‘Static’ all fizz and crackle with a punch that was lacking on Scott’s debut album. Guitar-driven Country music with a real southern cadence is the order of the day here. Every one of those aforementioned songs wouldn’t be out of place on a Top 20 Country radio countdown. Moving away from the smoother, more romantic style of his debut album has certainly benefited Scott’s sound and it also means the subject matter of his songs is a little less one dimensional too. ‘In Our Blood’ has a kind of ‘God’s Country’ kick to it whilst ‘Amen to That’ wouldn’t be out of place on a Jason Aldean album.
The biggest two influences on ‘Livin My Best Life’, however, come from the style and cadence of Florida Georgia Line and the rich, deep maturity of an artist like Brett Eldredge. ‘Can’t Have Mine’, a smooth, soulful ballad about being thankful for the woman you love has a real FGL style to the cadence and melody whilst the title track, which was written by Tyler Hubbard, Brian Kelley and Thomas Rhett, is a nice mix of the melody of FGL and the warmth and soul of Rhett. It will be a great addition to Scott’s live set and a central point of his shows going forward.
HARDY’s influence on this album can’t be discounted either. As well as writing a couple of the tracks you can hear his kind of muscle on tracks like ‘Killin Some Time’. Guitars are the order of the day here and a ‘living my best life’ kind of attitude. You can also hear Scott’s evolution as an artist on tracks like ‘Killin Some Time’ as he delves deeper into his feelings and emotions, ruminating more on the meaning of life, than he did on his debut release.
The Brett Eldredge influence begins to creep in as the album enters its second half. Tracks like ‘Ain’t Much Left of Me’, ‘Leave Her Alone’ and ‘Hell Out of Me’ all have a rich, deep vocal driving them and a depth and soul that is a delight to hear. ‘Leave Her Alone’ was written by Ernest and Mitchell Tenpenny and is a wonderful fusion of Country music and Soul whilst ‘Hell Out Of Me’ sees Scott singing about love, angels and redemption in a way that everyone will be able to relate to. Add in ‘Nobody’, with its piano and handclaps and a soulful chorus that explodes in a delightfully Gospel-tinged manner and you’ve got the beating heart of the album right before your eyes.
There are hit singles hidden all over these 16 tracks and it’s going to be hard for Scott and his team at Curb records to pin down which ones to promote over some of the others once current single ‘New Truck’ reaches number 1 (it’s currently sitting at 3 in the charts and the top spot beckons) but isn’t that a good problem to have? ‘Boy I Was Back Then’ also screams radio. It’s a reflective look at how Scott has grown and evolved over the years. ‘I wasn’t a good guy, I wasn’t a bad guy but I wasn’t a guy you’d want to spend your life with,’ he sings, with openness and authenticity without sacrificing any of the melody or Pop/Country punch we’ve come to expect from him.
The two biggest issues Scott and Curb records have is what to do with ‘Tough’ and Good Times Go By Too Fast’. Both of these songs have been pushed back towards the end of this 16 track album. That means the album has a really strong ‘back nine’ but it also means that listener fatigue and familiarity might well cause some people to miss out on what are the two best songs on ‘Livin My Best Life’. ‘Tough’ is one of only two songs on the album to feature female writers and it really shows in the feel of the song. It’s a clever, nuanced song that explores relationships and what it means to be a ‘real man’. It’s the sleeper hit of the whole album with its cross-gender appeal and radio friendly vibes but the best song on offer here is, without doubt, ‘Good Times Go By Too Fast’. This is another reflective song about the passing of time and meaning of life and whilst it is one of the songs on ‘Livin’ My Best Life’ that has that kind of FGL cadence to it, it’s got more heart and soul than anything Hubbard and Kelley ever released. I love the way the tempo and feel of the song changes in the post-chorus section and the military style drums and Coldplay-esque backing vocals bring a real anthemic quality to this innovative song: a song too unique and ‘out of the box’ for Country radio but one that should slay live and delight fans of class, quality music everywhere.
‘Livin My Best Life’ is a triumph. Melody and muscle mixed with maturity is the order of the day here. Scott’s willingness to open up a little, to reflect on life and to move away from his reliance on love songs has seen him produce an album as good as anything I’ve heard in mainstream Country music in 2022. It’s too long at 16 tracks but having said that, there’s very little filler here though. It’s an album jam-packed with potential radio hits and future live favourites and Scott’s biggest problem will be choosing the right songs with which to try and bring this album to the attention of a Country music crowd bombarded with content and an industry already shouting at them across multiple platforms. It’s a problem, but what a lovely problem to have!
Track list: 1. New Truck 2. Amen to That 3. Can’t Have Mine (Find You A Girl) 4. In Our Blood 5. Static 6. Lay Down With You 7. Boy I Was Back Then 8. Livin My Best Life 9. Killin Some Time 10. Ain’t Much Left of Me 11. Leave Her Alone 12. Tough 13. Hell Out of Me 14. Nobody 15. Good Times Go By Too Fast 16. Nothing to Do Town Record Label: Curb Records Release Date: August 5th Buy ‘Livin My Best Life’ now