Chris Young fans had to wait a little longer than usual for his new album, but he thinks the wait will be worth it. Collaborations with Kane Brown, Lauren Alaina and Mitchell Tenpenny dot the 14 songs of Famous Friends, each showing the singer’s versatility, as well as his willingness to stand alongside singers as strong as himself.
The dynamic hitmaker has previously shared songs with icons such as Vince Gill (“Sober Saturday Night”) and vocal gymnasts like Cassadee Pope (“Think of You”). After his work with Brown on the title track for the new album, he is three-for-three in the duets running to the top of the country broadcast charts.
A clip with Tenpenny for “At the End of a Bar” might indicate where he’s headed next, but it feels like the challenge is as enjoyable as the commercial success that could come from a beautiful couple.
“I love singing next to someone who can sing. All the time I’m like, ‘You better not mess it up,'” Young said with a laugh in a recent question-and-answer session. with the media. “Even though I have one of those days when I’m on the road and you’ve been out for months… it’s like ‘Why did I do this to myself again?’ Who cares? Because they’re fun to sing and I like being on a stage next to someone who has as much vocal talent as someone like Lauren and being able to sing along with her. “
Alaina joins the Middle Tennessee native on “Town Ain’t Big Enough”, a powerful ballad that finds two ex-lovers wishing they could do more to stop crossing paths. Young wrote the track with Dan + Shay’s Shay Mooney, Cary Barlowe and Corey Crowder. The two singers take a verse before joining the choir; it’s a personal performance on an album (available on RCA Nashville August 6) that Young says goes deeper than he did with his previous seven studio albums. It’s more the result of personal growth than time spent alone during the pandemic, he says, but he’s happy with the results anyway.
Tenpenny and Young have teamed up with Chris DeStefano to write “At the End of the Bar”, another powerful ballad that emphasizes progressive production techniques and tremendous vocal catharsis at the very end. The “Drunk Me” frontman is a powerful singer yet unrecognized, but one who can keep up with Young – and perhaps even deliver the challenge the more seasoned hitmaker craves.
“This record is definitely different,” Young says, pointing to the mix of producers he’s worked with on Famous Friends (DeStefano, Crowder, Mark Holman). Part of what makes it vibrant is that it was written and recorded over several years – remember, “Raised on Country” was supposed to be the title track when it was released in January 2019, but because a single by Drowning has stalled just outside the Top 20 and due to the interruptions caused by the pandemic, plans have shifted. Instead of 11 songs originally slated for her eighth album, fans get 14 with the album’s song Tenpenny and moody piano, “Tonight We’re Dancing.”
If Young has ever been upset about the delays, he doesn’t show it. The 36-year-old was as jovial and energetic as you’ll ever see during the roughly 30-minute conversation with the country music media. The pandemic, he admits, has taught him something about how to keep things in perspective, and the result is a very committed Chris Young – one who is always looking for his next big vocal challenge.
“Carrie Underwood,” he snaps when asked who’s on his bucket list. “I’ve had this question before. It’s the same question every time… she can sing. You better not stand next to her.
Look for Young to tour many new songs on Famous Friends when he starts on Famous Friends Tour in October. Tenpenny and newcomer Callista Clark will join him for the majority of the 13-date trek.
Best Country Albums of 2021 – Critics’ Choice
There were plenty of creative country albums in 2021, but not all of them hit the mark. Artists are playing more than ever with distribution methods and packaging as much as they are new sounds, so you get double and triple, Part 1 and Part 2 albums, and digital EPs instead of a traditional 10 release. or 11 songs.
More than ever, this relied on staff opinion and artistic merit to allow a certain parity between the artists of the big labels and the independents. The 10 albums listed below are unranked, although the year-end list released in the fall will crown a truly best album of 2021.