Young country act Dustin Lynch scores big debut by going back to basics.
Dustin Lynch has good reason to celebrate. Fueled by the top 10 single "Cowboys and Angels," he became the only new male artist to have his debut album enter at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart in 2012. The self-titled Broken Bow Records set, released Aug. 21, is No. 5 this week, while the single climbs to No. 8 on Hot Country Songs.
"It's a dream come true," says the Tullahoma, Tenn., native, who moved to Nashville right after high school. "I've been reaching for this branch for nine years, and I'm finally on top of it. I'm hanging on for dear life now."
"Cowboys and Angels" has sold more than 544,000 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and exceeded 1.2 million views on YouTube. "It's a universal love story, and we wanted a lyric that everyone could relate to," Lynch says about the emotional song penned with Josh Leo and Tim Nichols. "Folks are making it a part of their lives."
BBR Music Group senior VP Jon Loba attributes the song's success to Lynch's unique voice and work ethic and the track's ability to fill a void at country radio. "Right now, the format is much like it was in the early 1990s-there's an AC element on one side, an outlaw element on the other," Loba says. "We were really missing the middle. I've heard one programmer after the other describing this as a 'big freight train of a song,' heading right up the middle. It fed the core listeners who weren't attracted to extremes, and those who were just tired of them. It's a back-to-basics type of song."
Produced by Brett Beavers and Luke Wooten, the album features 12 songs, plus a bonus track, "Your Plan." "I wrote almost 300 songs for this record and listened to a thousand more," says Lynch, who wrote or co-wrote 10 of the songs. "The 13 that made it in have something special, and they all floated to the top. My favorite albums-the ones I keep playing in the truck-take me somewhere, so that's the kind of record that I wanted to make."
Though Broken Bow is pushing "Cowboys and Angels" toward the top of the chart, the label has already identified the next single as the uptempo "She Cranks My Tractor." "We showed the serious depth of Dustin on 'Cowboys and Angels,' and the next single shows his playful side," says Loba, who originally signed Lynch to Valory Music during his tenure with Big Machine Label Group, and took the artist with him when he joined Broken Bow.
"Your Plan" features thoughtful lyrics about surrendering to God's wishes when life seems out of control. Loba recalls Lynch calling to play it for him. "I heard the song and had to pull over to the side of the road, because tears started streaming down my face," Loba says. "It spoke to me. Everybody can relate to that at some point in their lives."
It took a few years and two label deals, but Lynch is happy to have finally reached this pivotal point in his career. He's also kept busy on the road, selling out such venues as Boots N Buckles in Tampa, Fla., and packing Nashville's 12th & Porter for "Listen Up," a special show that aired live on CMT.com on Sept. 4. However, Lynch seems most excited about a hometown gig scheduled for Sept. 29.
"It will be great to go back with a song on the radio," Lynch says. "I'm already looking forward to making another album, seeing where we can take the next one, and how we can evolve."