Album Review: Chris Young - “Young Love & Saturday Nights”

The Tennessean returns with his ninth album for RCA Nashville Records and serves as producer for the first time.

Now nearly two decades and nine albums into his major label recording artist career, Chris Young has taken hold of the direction of Young Love & Saturday Nights by producing or co-producing (with Chris DeStefano and Corey Crowder)every track on the album. In addition to production duties, Chris also co-wrote 15 of the 18 tracks on the album and it all showcases that he knows who he is and what he’s about as a country music artist. Perhaps under-appreciated for his steady hit making approach over the years, the album features the inventive title track which follows a trend in country music these days by taking familiar melodies from classic hits and creates a new track out of them. In this case, the familiar melody from David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” serves to bring a rollicking tale of enjoying life and love and how those things don’t need a lot of money to make that happen (and that this kind of thing will continue happen for a long time to come).
Previously released as a song to DSPs prior to the album’s release, “What She Sees In Me” showcases the resonant baritone that has always been the best instrument on a Chris Young album. There’s a buttery tone to his vocal in the verses while the chorus finds him dumbfounded in how lucky he is to have the woman in his life, even when he messes something up. “Gettin’ Older” and “All Dogs Go to Heaven” are songs that in lesser artists might feel saccharine but in the hands of one of country music’s best male vocalists, they’re great country songs. The first one is a sweet ode to our fathers and aging while the latter song tells the tale of a man’s best friend and how every dog makes us better people by simply being around us.

There are several songs with some good mid-tempo, feel good grooves on this 18 track affair and a couple of them include the nostalgic “Everybody Grew Up” 90s country throwback “Double Down,” the hopeful “Country Boy’s Prayer,” and “Drink To Remember,” a song about how things can bring us back to moments in our lives. Another pair of standouts are “Fire,” a future hit if sent to radio with its HARDY-assisted lyrics and vocal. Chris co-wrote the song with HARDY and his frequent collaborator on this project, Chris DeStefano. The latter also collaborates with Chris and co-writer Josh Hoge on “Right Now,” a tune about old flames whose flame for each other still hasn’t gone out, especially late night dalliances.

With 18 new songs, Chris Young is giving his longtime fans a lot of new music with Young Love & Saturday Nights to get familiar with and while it could be a lot to digest for some, in this case Young Love and Saturday Nights serves as one of the best projects from Chris Young’s storied career. I mean, with that classic country baritone of his, I would love to hear Chris Young record a full classic sounding/90s country project (or a covers record) but, as presented here, he shows off why he’s a great, versatile modern country singer and finds the artist firmly in the pocket of what he does best.