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The Sound

Lynch tops charts on wings of ‘Angels’


Dustin Lynch has been playing country music since he was 15, but for this Tennessee boy, his story really starts at The Bluebird.

The Bluebird Café is one of the holiest spots in the country music mecca of Nashville, Tenn. Opened in 1982, the venue features a weekly singer/songwriter night that regularly features Grammy-award winners and has been the launching pad for careers ranging from Garth Brooks to Taylor Swift. In addition, countless aspiring musicians gather in “the Bird” nightly to listen and learn from some of the greats. Enter Lynch, who picked his college based on its proximity to the Bird.

“The first night I got to Nashville, after my parents left, I got in the truck and went straight to the Bluebird,” Lynch said in an interview from the Music City.

Eventually, Lynch moved from the dorms at David Lipscomb University to an apartment right behind the café itself, allowing him even easier access to the place that would help shape his music. It was only a matter of time before he was performing on the Bird’s stage.

Dustin Lynch performs at the Val Air Ballroom on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. Crawford County opens.

Dustin Lynch performs at the Val Air Ballroom on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. Crawford County opens.

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Playing at the café is what led Lynch to meet songwriter Tim Nichols, who’d previously co-written with Tim McGraw. The two started collaborating nearly three years ago, and in their first session together they both came in with separate ideas for the same song.

“(Nichols) suggested a couple of drinking songs, which isn’t my thing. Then he flipped his book open about halfway through, and said, ‘Here’s this idea I’ve had for a while called Cowboys and Angels.’ I showed him my piece of paper, and he said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ ”                

“Cowboys and Angels” became the first single off Lynch’s self-titled debut, and peaked at No. 2 on the U.S. country charts while selling more than 875,000 downloads. The album itself hit No. 1 on both Billboard’s U.S. Country and U.S Indie charts, a position that’s as much a testament to song selection as it is to performance.                

“I wanted to make an album you could listen to top to bottom,” he said. “(It’s) like March Madness. You put all of your songs on a board and see which are the stronger songs, which songs knock out what. It was neat.”                

Paring down his songs March Madness style surely made for one huge bracket; Lynch had compiled a roster of more than 200 songs in less than two years.               

“I’m a workaholic,” he explained. “I was getting paid to write songs, so that’s what I did. That’s just the guy I am. If I’m not doing something, I get bored. So I was trying to write the best record possible and decided to just get after it as hard as I can.”                

The result is a deeply satisfying country album. Lynch’s voice is strong and dynamic, and the songs range from country-fried rock like “She Cranks My Tractor” and “Wild in Your Smile” to acoustic ballad “Your Plan.” The album hits all the right beats: party song, romance, nostalgia track (“Last Lap”), ballad — it’s all there.                

In a world that’s increasingly dominated by reality show contestants and YouTube stars, Lynch found success the old-fashioned way: by learning from talented people and doing likewise. And while his debut album has songs that run the country gamut, it’s the throwback “Cowboys and Angels” that resonates with people the most.                

“Everywhere we go across the country, people are singing the song back to us,” Lynch said. “If I can continue to make music that means something to somebody, I’ll just be a happy camper.” CV

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