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Review: Florida Georgia Line revisit their roots on album number three

Though much maligned by traditionalists, Florida Georgia Line do have a knack for turning out catchy pop country songs – straightforward party hits aimed primarily at the teenage market, perhaps, but since they first burst on to the scene in 2012, the pair have shown signs of something deeper and less generic on occasion – particularly on “Dirt,” one of two number ones they enjoyed in 2014.

The first single off Dig Your Roots (“H.O.L.Y.”) has already hit the top spot on the country singles chart this year, while the follow-up, “May We All” (featuring Tim McGraw), didn’t even manage to crack the Top 20. Still, I don’t think it’s time to panic just yet…

Beginning with a ‘down home’ southern groove – complete with ‘swamp’ noises such as frogs croaking – “Smooth” is a decent opener which reminded me a little of The Black Crowes’ uplifting anthem from 2001, “Soul Singing.”

The reflective title track has a more modern, electronically-enhanced edge, complete with a memorable chorus. Country singers ‘going reggae’ can be a hit-and-miss affair, but FGL manage to pull it off quite convincingly (having Ziggy Marley on there helps) on “Life Is a Honeymoon.”

The aforementioned “H.O.L.Y.” (incidentally, the initials stand for “high on loving you”) is a soothing ballad with a lovely chorus, though I found the tune immediately after it, “Island,” rather banal and quickly skipped to the next track, the Tim McGraw duet. Despite peaking at number 27, “May We All” is certainly not the worst song on the album.

“Summerland” (a contender for that dubious accolade) is your standard sun, sea and sand fare that I think I’d enjoy more if I were 16. “Lifer” is marginally better and is enthusiastically sung by the million-selling duo. Of the remaining tracks, only “Grow Old” and “Heatwave” are on a par with the album’s other standout moments (“Smooth,” the title track, etc.).

In terms of the evolution of the musical style heard on their two previous LPs, Here’s to the Good Times (2012) and 2014’s Anything Goes, it has to be said that this is largely more of the same – although there is a more pensive tone this time around (understandable as these ‘bros’ are no longer the carefree singletons who dominated the airwaves four years ago with “Cruise”).

It will be interesting to see what the future brings for these two, but as long as they keep turning out uncomplicated ditties about the fickle pleasures of youth – with the odd contemplative number thrown in – they’ll continue to sell millions of records and fill stadiums up and down the country. If it ain’t broke…

Dig Your Roots will be available to buy or download from August 26.

For more on Florida Georgia Line, visit their official website.

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