From the opening finger snaps and kick drum heartbeat of “I’d Be Jealous Too,” we instantly know Dustin Lynch’s third record will not be like his first two. This isn’t a bad thing. While he was very good on his first two album projects, Dustin also needed to follow the music and he does that with Current Mood, an aptly named album which he closely collaborated with producers and co-writers to create a record that’s wholly a 2017 effort. His label team at Broken Bow Records, to their credit, allowed Dustin some creative space and worked two singles to radio before there was even more than a handful of songs. The first single from this project, “Seein’ Red,” was released in July 0f 2016 a full 14 months before album release and it set up the record and also served as the bridge single from the melodies of the past few hits to where Dustin ultimately went with the melodies on Current Mood.
Having that bridge single was a smart choice for it has kept Dustin’s streak of #1 hits intact. The follow-up, “Small Town Boy” blends a bit more of that old with the new and it, too, hit #1 on the Billboard Radio Airplay chart the week Current Mood hit stores. There’s a silky feel to Current Mood album opener “I’d Be Jealous Too,” one of seven songs co-written by Dustin Lynch for the album. It’s also one of six songs produced by songwriter Ross Copperman who sparked within Dustin the idea to use multiple collaborators on the project (Mickey Jack Cones, Brent Anderson, Will Weatherly, and Zach Crowell all serve as producers at various points). A common approach in the pop music world, this scatter-shot approach needs a strong artist to be able to keep the album cohesive in a country music context and like Brett Eldredge and Keith Urban before him, Dustin Lynch is dedicated to his art and his music and shepherds Current Mood to keep it a distinctive body of work. With a strong undercurrent of 80s pop in the groove of the bass line and layered instrumentals (best heard with a good pair of headphones or earbuds), “Why We Call Each Other” is yet another Copperman co-write and production and it serves as the ‘late night booty call’ song for the album and while quite pleasing to the ear and a good song, it’d be good if this theme took a break from country music for a little bit.
I’m always a sucker for a song where bass serves as the lead instrument and “I Wish You Were Beer” features one of the stronger moments on this record, with a quirky production (Copperman again) and somewhat staccato moments with lyrics that take a older theme (trying to get someone off your mind) and creates a new way to tell it. This may be to quirky and different to ever be a radio hit but it’s gonna be a fun moment in Dustin Lynch’s live show. The record takes a melodic turn to 19902 adult alternative rock with “Why Not Tonight,” a track which definitely is for the live show (it’s a party song). “Sun Don’t Go Down On That” may be the album’s closer (and all of these songs here are Copperman productions), but it sure feels like something that could be a hit on country radio come next spring/summer as the song tells a story of a richly-lived summer which stays with the narrator forever. “State Lines” is one of the ballad moments on Current Mood and it finds Dustin Lynch narrating the problems with a traveling business person (or artist)’s life, the problem that he can’t be with his love as much as he really wants to. That’s a fresh way for the long-distance lover story and much-appreciated here.
“Back On It,” feels like the most R&B kind of song on the record and the production of this song is out of this world good (with echoes of early Coolio deep in the mix). Brent Anderson and Will Weatherly (who also co-wrote the tune with Smith Ahnquist), infuse the song with a R&B groove which slows down at times as it goes to the upper and downer moments of the lyrics as love is equated to Schedule 1 narcotics and their addictive power to alter one’s reality. With production from Zach Crowell that has echoes of 90s R&B/pop band Blessid Union of Souls, “New Girl” is one of the best moments on Current Mood and while it may never be a single — because there are so many potential hits to be found on the project — it is a strong song which tells a familiar story in a fresh way. Speaking of great moments, I saved the best moment on Current Mood for the end of this review. “Love Me Or Leave Me Alone.” It has the potential to be Dustin Lynch’s “Blue Ain’t Your Color” moment in that it serves as a sonic outlier on the album, a retro-cool moment with moody atmospheric melodies and strong harmonies from Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild. It’s a song about a couple needing to make a commitment to each other because if they don’t the narrator needs to move on in a bid for self-preservation.
If you were to take in Current Mood without some context for when it was made (2017 - Current) and how dedicated Dustin Lynch was to the project and each track (Mood), you might think this isn’t the same artist who made the Dustin Lynch or Where It’s At albums; But if you dig deep into those records, this path was always where Dustin Lynch was going to end up as an artist. He dives into the deep end of the modern country music pool with Current Mood and not only survives but thrives as he builds up his career to that of a risk-taking superstar not afraid to go where the music takes him.