Dustin Lynch on living with songs, creative freedom & Little Big Town influence–EXCLUSIVE

DL Brown Shirt - Justin Nolan Key final

Dustin Lynch finds himself refreshed as he begins a new musical chapter of his career. With a No. 1 hit "Cowboys & Angels" (and a few other Top 30 singles) under his belt, the singer is ready to look forward to what his forthcoming sophomore record could bring. As evidenced by his currently single and album lead-in "Where It's At," Lynch is embarking in a far more radio-ready direction, amping up his charm and creativity.

"It's like a renewal. I needed it," he shares exclusively to NashvilleGab of the new record. He quickly notes where he found inspiration to move forward. "The Fuse Tour with Little Big Town and Keith Urban affected this record a whole lot, just because I was around such a high-energy show for eight months when I was writing. I think that rubbed off on this album."

Lynch also says that current radio trends did have a presence when piecing the music together, particularly "on the production side." Bringing in a new producer, the acclaimed Mickey Jack Cones, for the project, the singer was able to dig into a deeper well. "I worked with him on the Merle Haggard [tribute] album," he recounts. "That’s where we met. He brought a new flavor that I really liked, a fresh, new take on my music and my vocals."

With a tentative release timeframe of late summer or early fall, Lynch is "having a blast" putting together some new tunes for his fans. "We’re still in the middle of it, still working on songs," he says of the process. "We’ve got a few more spots to record and fill up. I think we could put the bow on it right now, and it’d be great, honestly. We have a few more tracks I want to get, though."

Comparatively, the new album has allowed him to draw more from his life for lyrical inspiration. "I’ve done most of my writing on the bus," he allows. "For the first record, I was in town most of the time. This record was inspired by the road. We’re doing festivals and major arenas and in-between that and doing sound checks, we’re writing songs. All that energy goes into what mood you’re in and comes out melodically. It’s definitely a new approach."

He adds, "I’ve gotten to travel the country and make music the past two years and meet so many different types of people and see so many new things and landscapes. All those colors I get to paint with now."

So, what songwriters is he working with this time 'round? He shares that, too: "Most of the guys I write with I came to town dreaming to write with. I had a huge success with ‘Cowboys & Angels’ with Tim Nicols and Josh Leo. We have a really special chemistry. We don’t even know what it is, but it works."

"We’ve got two songs on this new record. One of them is my favorite song I’ve ever written in my life. It’ll probably be a single at some point. Those two guys are still on the record, and we’re still doing our thing. I’m loving writing with Ashley Gorley, Jimmy Robbins, Zach Crowell."

Dustin Lynch - Where It's At single cover art

Lynch's new re-invigorated vision can certainly be heard on Lynch's latest "Where It's At," a song that was presented to him through Broken Bow Records executive Jon Loba. "I was in the office one day, and [he] goes, ‘hey man. I got a song that I really like and thought about you when I heard it.’ He played it. I was like, ‘let me live with it.’"

He adds, "I like to live with songs, put them on my iPod and listen to ‘em in the gym or driving around town. I lived with it for a while and decided it’d be a cool thing." The spark didn't happen, however, until the recording studio. "The magic really happened when we cut the song in the studio. The really hooky guitars is really what brought it to life and took it to a new level. All of a sudden it felt ‘wow, there’s something special here. It feels like the summer jam.’"

As goes in the music industry, things can turn on a dime, changing from one day to the next. In fact, this breezy summer song wasn't the intended first single. "We thought about several different songs as the first single," Lynch ponders. "It’s always tough choosing what to do. You get it down to songs you like to put out to radio, then you have to figure out what order to put them in. I did a lot of praying on it."

Broken Bow took a rather unconventional route with the decision, allowing Lynch (a relative newcomer) to take the wheel. Lynch shares, "The record label gave me the choice. They’re like, ‘this one is on you. You deserve it. Pick it.’ [That] was kind of scary. I listened to some of their opinions and some of mine. I took my time on it. I lived with it for a month or two and decided that this song introduces the next album perfectly. It’s a groove that I’ve wanted to do for awhile that we didn’t get to put out on the first album. It was just a perfect match."

"It was a revelation kind of thing. When I played people a few songs here and there, the research matched up to what I thought it should be. It was time to pull the trigger."

Judging by a landmark 79 first-week radio adds upon release, country music fans and industry tastemakers have definitely responded quite positively. There are even T-shirts with the song's lyrics already in the works. "I believe one is already out there. One of my buddies in Kentucky made one online. It says ‘where it’s at’ on the front and has an arrow pointed down to his crotch," he chuckles.

Musically, Lynch also spreads his wings on the recent Working Man's Poet: A Tribute to Merle Haggard compilation set. "I got asked to do that project early in the process and got to choose those two songs. ‘I Think I’ll Stay Here And Drink’ is a song I’ve sung a thousand times on Lower Broadway in honky tonks. That was a cinch," he says.

"‘That’s The Way Love Goes’ is my all-time favorite Haggard song. The fact I got to sing that…I was pretty nervous. I wanted to do it justice," he admits. "I didn’t really want to stray too far from his version. To get in that headspace and character was a lot of fun. I still can’t believe I’m on that album."

When Lynch first moved to Nashville, he lived a block away from the iconic Bluebird Cafe, a central location for the hit ABC drama. "It’s totally the reason I’m here. I didn’t know anywhere to go then. I just knew that songwriters hung out at Bluebird, and I wanted to be a better songwriter. That’s what I did. When I moved to Nashville, I didn’t know a single person. I didn’t have anybody holding my hand introducing me to people. It was, ‘here’s Nashville. Good luck…’"

Admittedly, Lynch says his entire life could have turned out quite differently if he hadn't. "It was such a convenience to jump over and learn from those guys. You can just sit in the Bluebird; it’s so inspiring. I’d just sit there and dream of one day getting to play a song there. It was a huge deal when I finally got to do that. I’m still chasing down those dreams. I’ve got a long list of check marks to go," he says.

Of his check marks, he relates his favorite TV moment so far. "Doing Jimmy Kimmel was incredible because when we shot that show, I thought it was going to be a studio audience. It was kind of a like a club. It was a very comfortable setting. All my fans showed up. We got to tape the show out there in LA, and it plays later in the night. So, the band and I got to go to a restaurant and watch ourselves on late-night television. It was such an incredible experience."

Despite the limelight, Lynch likes to take a few steps back sometimes, including a recent fishing trip (which he shared on Twitter). "I like to decompress," he says, citing that hunting and fishing are his favorite non-musical activities. "The only drawback of being gone all the time is my hunting and fishing suffers. I long to have land and farms that I can hunt and fish on."

Don't forget to grab a copy of "Where It's At" on iTunes now!

Keep up-to-date on all things Dustin Lynch on his official website!

Photos courtesy of Broken Bow Records

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