Dustin Lynch is giving fans a taste of his hometown in his brand new album, Tullahoma.
Tullahoma — which is named after where he grew up — is Lynch's fourth full-length album and follows 2017's Current Mood. The new album showcases 11 new songs including his single "Ridin' Roads," in addition to other previously-released songs like "Momma's House," "Little Town Livin'," "Red Dirt, Blue Eyes" and "Good Girl."
Lynch was inspired to name his new album after his hometown after a deep, inward self-reflection. He tells us, "I stepped back after all the songs were kinda finalized, the last batch of songs, pretty close at least, and I started trying to figure out why I ended up with this batch of 11 songs I did for this, I guess, time-stamp of my life of making music and why I was writing the lyrics I was writing, and just why I gravitated towards each song. It's kind of because it's who I am right now, and then I started thinking about why am I who I am. It got pretty deep. And I'm who I am because I was blessed enough to have a hometown. You know, the same town my whole life until I moved to Nashville at the age of 18 to chase this crazy dream. And, so that town is responsible, the people of that town, my family, my friends that are still there that are still at home rooting for me, are responsible for me being here today, and it just felt like the appropriate thing to do."
He adds of how the lyrical content is also reflective of his hometown, "I would say probably 90% of my lyrics that come out of my mouth and ends up on a page is from a setting or situation that has happened in my hometown or around my hometown, where we used to ride back roads and we liked to fool [around] in the country side. So, yeah, for sure a lot of these songs on this album are a direct influence by that town and the surrounding area, and of course the lyrics as well, kind of steer that ship."
Of all the songs on Tullahoma, there is only one with a feature — Lauren Alaina appears on a song called "Thinking 'Bout You." The two had recently toured together with Cole Swindell, and after performing one night on stage alongside each other, Lynch realized he and Alaina's voices worked well together. He explains:
"She and I have a natural, kinda organic friendship, and I don't know if she's a fan of mine, but I'm a fan of hers. And, because we got to tour together at the end of 2018 for, I don't know how many shows it was, 20 or something shows. We're out with Cole Swindell, Lauren and myself, and we had a great time, and I asked her to come out and sing a song of mine called 'Love Me or Leave Me Alone' off my last album, and she so kindly did. I realized very quickly that, wow, our voices, they just work together. And she's such a great performer and entertainer that I kinda put it at the back of my mind [that] I wanted to have her featured on something in the future. And I went in to write specifically for this album, a duet; a song that I could have a female collaborate with me on. And luckily she liked the song. I sent her the song and she immediately called me and said, 'I'm totally in, I'll only sing it if we get to make out in the rain in the video.' So I was like, well we'll see, we'll talk about that, but I'm glad you're in. So it was fine, she's an awesome person, and believe it or not, we had to fly to L.A. to record her vocal because she was stuck in L.A. for 'Dancing With The Stars.' So, it was kind of one of those crazy chain of events where we ended up recording her vocal in L.A., mine in Nashville, and we made the magic happen in the studio."
Fans will notice that there are a few songs on Tullahoma that relate to roads — "Ridin' Roads," "Dirt Road," — and as it relates to his hometown, Lynch even sings on the latter, "I grew up on a dirt road." When asked if there was a particular road in Tullahoma that helped inspire these songs, he named a road called Lazy Branch. He tells us, "There's actually a road called 'Lazy Branch,' I don't know if it's a road. You drive down it, so I guess it's considered a road right, but it's dirt [and] gravel and I think it's halfway on somebody's property. But it was 'Lazy Branch' and it was kind of a drinking game growing up. It's a pretty long, winding one way road through a bunch of woods, and it pops out by the lake in the background. And, so we would figure out a way to sneak some beer out of town and you'd have to finish a beer by the time you made a lap. It was kind of our ... you know, you couldn't get in trouble out in the country like that, so that was kinda what we did in high school to get away. I don't know why, I even named my vibe room backstage at my concerts 'Lazy Branch' from that road because it is kinda where we started learning how to party. And I guess we still party a little bit on the road so, we're bringing Lazy Branch along with us."
Dustin also broke down some of the meaning and inspiration behind a few of the other tracks on Tullahoma. Read on to find out the stories behind the songs.
"The first true heartbreak you ever feel in your life sucks. And 'Momma's House' is a song, you see the title and you expect, oh this is gonna be a warm lovey-dovey type of tribute to mom, and you find out very quickly when the chorus hits, it's the exact opposite. Your mom's house is the one saving grace of this guy not jumping off a deep end over a break-up. But, yeah, I think anytime you feel love for the first time, and of course in high school, she's the one, right? And I think for me, my mom and my dad are high school sweethearts, my grand-mom and grand-dad are high school sweethearts and my sister and her husband are high school sweethearts, so it was only fair that I felt very deeply in love whenever I met my girlfriend in high school. And, it sucked whenever the break up happened, but many have happened since and I've survived."
"Old Country Song"
"'Old Country Song' reminds me of just that classic [love] that my parents have. And for whatever reason it reminds me of The Grand Ole Opry. Now I'm a member of The Grand Ole Opry, which is just, it's crazy to even say. I feel weird even saying that now and it's been a little over a year. But, my parents always make date night out of me playing the Opry and so that song reminds me of that connection I have with my parents, and it's just that love that's gonna stand the test of time. I'm so blessed to have a relationship like that close to me and around me I get to experience that still today."
On his favorite old country song: "One of my [favorite] old country songs [is] probably, 'Forever and Ever Amen', by Randy Travis. It's actually the first song I was ever able to play on guitar and sing at the same time. It's tough to do as a kid. You can get where you can play along, but then you also have to sing, it's really tough. And that was the first breakthrough I had where I could play guitar [and] sing, and I sang that song to my parents. It was the first song I ever sang to them, so that's probably my favorite."
"Little Town Livin'"
"'Little Town Livin' is simply just me name checking everything kinda right there on North Jackson Street in Tullahoma. It's crazy to think that. And the last time I was in Tullahoma with my dad, [we] got lunch from a convenience store. It's odd now living in bigger city, it's kind of funny that you go to have pizza, burgers and barbecue and you can get gas and cigarettes. It's great — one stop shop. So that song is completely just name checking everything, kind of just me driving a block in Tullahoma. It was kinda weird to write it, it fell out, a bit of the phrasing very quick for me to sing, and even live I really have to concentrate singing that song because, you know, I'm from the south, I don't talk quickly, I don't feel like. So singing that fast is a bit of a challenge. But 'Little Town Livin' is simply just a laundry list of spots if you were to drive a block with me on North Jackson Street in Tullahoma. That's what you'd see and that's kinda what I wrote down. I miss Friday nights on that street. I assume they still cruise it, but back in the day, whenever you try to have the biggest wheels on your truck and the loudest speakers on the back, windows down and jumping out at red lights and switching cars with friends. Then you go to the Sonic Drive-Thru and get a milkshake and whatever else, and hit on girls and figure out how to get to 'Lazy Branch' later. See who could buy beer, snuck beer out of the house. So that's kinda what we did. That would be fun to do again. I think life gets a little boring when now that you can just go to a bar and get a drink. Back then it was a whole night of an event to try and find one beer."
Photos: Lorena Kjer