Chris Young – “Neon”

15 May

Songwriters:  Shane McAnally, Joan Osborne, Trevor Rosen

At this point, it’s almost hard to believe that just a few short years ago, Chris Young was a cowboy-hatted Nashville Star alum struggling to get airplay with singles that were generally solid, but ‘too country’ for the market.  Fast forward to 2012, and “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)” has long since gained him admittance into the instant add club, and he has become a reliable hitmaker who continues to make country radio a little more listenable one steel-laden hit single at a time.

Though his song material has at times failed him, the title track and current single from his album Neon finds that rich neotraditional country voice sounding better than ever.  Young tackles the song’s verses with appealing subtlety, and then pours himself full-on into the chorus with a quiet intensity, while backed with fiddle and steel that just sounds pure country delicious.

Complementing the beautiful production arrangement and Young’s committed vocal performance, songwriters Shane McAnally, Joan Osborne, and Trevor Rosen provide a solid set of lyrics to complete the trifecta.  The lyrics combine imagery of Wyoming skies and Santa Fe sunsets with a few clever turns of phrase here and there, all without compromising the natural ease of flow.  It all leads to a familiar everyman destination that has been the setting of many a classic country song – the honky-tonk.  All the while, little details in the chorus place the listener right in the midst of the scene, with “a little Johnny Lee” playing on the jukebox in the corner.

With a contemporary spin on a classic country theme, and a melody that wouldn’t sound out-of-place during the glory days of the nineties, “Neon” sounds worthy of neotrad stalwarts such as George Strait and Alan Jackson, with a dash of Clay Walker thrown in for good measure.  Thus, “Neon” turns out a most refreshing, invigorating slice of contemporary country music in all its rich, twangy glory, making it arguably Young’s finest single to date.  If country radio retains any amount of good taste, this single should follow its predecessors right up the charts.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)

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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Single Reviews


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5 responses to “Chris Young – “Neon”

  1. Hoggy from Oz

    May 17, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    I do absolutely adore this song (not something I say often of anything). Young sings with such a cool, laid back approach that it reminds me of a sonic modernization of some of my favourite George Strait songs, like “Easy Come, Easy Go”. Great review Ben.

  2. rowdyred

    May 17, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    This is bar none the best single of 2012 and I’m about thisclose to getting the CD. Chris Young has a wonderfully warm, rich tone that sounds so traditional but still unique. I’ve enjoyed every CY single so far (my least favorite was “You,” and I still liked it). This one sealed the deal and I’m an outright fan! It fires on all cylinders — lyrics, melody, arrangement, vocal — it’s all gorgeous.

    Ben, this is a 10 in my book.

    (BTW, you write so very well, maybe you should try putting that eloquence into songwriting!)

  3. bob

    May 18, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    I agree with Hoggy and Rowdy on the writing of this review. But “The Black Dress Song” remains my favorite Chris Young song.

  4. rowdyred

    June 12, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    FINALLY! “Neon” has charted in the top 30 and is s-l-o-w-l-y climbing which means it should get more airplay. Seems to me last month I was hearing it a lot, but I’m sure I haven’t heard it once in days now. So I was nervous.According to Billboard, Chris is at #29, up from #32 last week, with 12 weeks on the chart.

    ABSOLUTELY GREAT NEWS: So is Alan Jackson’s “So You Don’t Have To Love Me Anymore,” which is in fact slightly ahead of Chris on Billboard, Kix Brooks’ chart and Lon Helton’s chart. Fantastic! According to Billboard, Alan’s at #26, up from #29 last week, with 21 weeks on the chart (!!), so it’s obviously clawing its way. Jeez. (Maybe that Letterman appearance last week helped!)

    Maybe we should be requesting these songs on the radio. I haven’t done that in YEARS, but this is what I want to hear so maybe I should do something about it.

  5. Rhonda Schwartz

    August 5, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    By far my favorite album yet! Any one of these 10 songs are “Gold” quality.I see as many as six of them going to number one,besides “Tomorrow”.Awsom job Chris,keep em coming…!!! Can’t wait to see you up in the northeast again.Neon’s slow and steady climb is on it’s way to being #1,no surprise to me.I love the music,and the man! Is there a forth album in the works?You know I’ll be first in line to buy it!!!
    Smooth voice,smooth moves.Even break dancing! Wow, He’s the whole package…


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