Florida Georgia Line have been promising a more mature sound with their third album Dig Your Roots and the duo more than deliver. At a recent album listening event in Nashville, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard spoke of this maturity and explained why it’s important that their music evolves the same way as their personal lives.
“A lot has changed for us over the last five years,” Hubbard said. “We’ve grown up a lot. We try to be really transparent in our music, and I think our music evolves as quickly as our life does. I think it’s important to continue to do that and be real with our fans. Not just try to record songs but make sure they have some depth to them. Make sure they have a purpose, and each song can have its own life.”
The 15-track album out Friday (Aug. 26) includes features by Tim McGraw, Ziggy Marley and the Backstreet Boys as well as Kelley taking the lead on several songs for the first time. The album kicks off with the sound of crickets, a frog, and coyote in the distance as hand-snapped rhythms enter with Hubbard and Kelley’s sultry vocals singing of how their girl is so smooth. Fittingly titled “Smooth,” it’s a track that showcases the band’s soulful and R&B influences which can be heard throughout the album’s entirety.
The catchy “Dig Your Roots” features Kelley on lead alongside drum loops as the duo get nostalgic about their childhood while looking ahead to their future. “You gotta dig your roots ‘fore the sun goes down / Show some love back to your hometown / Fall in love, plant some seeds / Carve some names in the family tree,” they sing.
Meanwhile, the standout “While He’s Still Around” shows Florida Georgia Line’s depth as artists and songwriters. The poignant song was written after Hubbard’s father died and Kelley’s dad almost passed away. The song, penned by Hubbard, Kelley, Chase Rice, Jesse Rice, Jordan Schmidt and Craig Wiseman, discusses how they’re going to try to spend as much time with their fathers fishing, catching up on life and fixing that old car while they’re still around.
“So I’m gonna try to say it before I gotta pray it / Hopin’ that he’s lookin’ down / And tell him that I love him while he’s still around,” they sing alongside pedal steel and mandolin accompaniment.
Other songs like the sweet “Grow Old,” Backstreet Boys collaboration “God, Your Mama, And Me,” and previous No. 1 single “H.O.L.Y.” pay tribute to their wives. In fact, “Grow Old” was Hubbard’s first dance at his wedding and it’s easy to see why. Written by Canaan Smith and Zachary Kale, the beautiful ballad shares the dreams a young couple have at the start of their lives as a married couple and the hopes that they will continue life’s major milestones as they grow old together.
Florida Georgia Line also go back to their musical roots with the first band they saw in concert and first album they purchased with the Backstreet Boys. The soaring ballad “God, Your Mama, And Me” has features from Nick Carter and AJ McLean on two of the verses while all the boy band members harmonize on the chorus with Hubbard and Kelley for a memorable release.
Longtime FGL fans need not to fret as the boys still know how to have a good time as can be heard on “Life Is a Honeymoon.” The reggae infused track features Ziggy Marley and has the duo urging us all not to miss a single moment we’re given. Additionally, the laid back “Island” also showcases the band’s R&B side and Kelley’s ability as a vocalist. Later, Tim McGraw assists on “May We All” which embodies distinct urban beats coupled with the country acts name dropping Travis Tritt and Tupac in the same line.
Florida Georgia Line showcase their maturity throughout Dig Your Roots but they never waver from what fans know and love about them. The party anthems and beach hangs remain, but so does their respect for their wives and their hopes to continue building a strong family. On Dig Your Roots, Hubbard and Kelley maintain the fun but also show a surprising depth that is more than welcomed.