In a bid to be taken more seriously and dissuade criticism, Florida Georgia Line are finally taking themselves seriously with their third studio album Dig Your Roots. Looking back now, 2014’s smash hit “Dirt” stands as a watershed moment for the hit-making duo, whose rollicking “Cruise”-like conveyor belt began to rip and tear and unleashed a bevy of copy cats. By exploring popular themes found in the wider and deeper reaches of country storytelling, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard open up new possibilities for their future. The undeniable “Dirt” impact is profoundly present throughout much of the new songs and has led to some of their best work. The new record’s production, of course, is decidedly in-line with current pop trends, but that is a weathered and worn argument at this point. The sharp-shooters, who premiered their “May We All” music video on the shores of Ellis Island earlier this week, allow themselves to be honest in an overwhelmingly tangible way, perhaps for the first time in their careers. Too, they kick up more than their fair share of down-home dirt and gravel on the 15-track collection.
Dig Your Roots does play colorfully with tried and true themes of parties, getting drunk for the thrill and youthful romance. “Summerland,” “Smooth,” “Island” and the Ziggy Marley-assisted “Life is a Honeymoon” are suitable companion pieces to such FGL standards as “This is How We Roll,” “Get Your Shine On” and “Confession.” But make no mistake, the new album is shockingly layered, grounded and real when it needs to be. By 2016 standards, “While He’s Still Around” is as country as you can get — with Kelley taking a spin on lead vocal, there is an unshakable poignancy to the story and is, quite frankly, the best song the two have ever put to record. “Dig Your Roots,” “Music is Healing” and “Grow Old” are especially satisfying, as well. One could almost confuse this album with a Tim McGraw record; when Hubbard and Kelley dial back the swagger, coil up their wallet chains and focus on being honest, they can make substantial work. Even the flourish of Backstreet Boys nostalgia on “God, Your Mama, and Me” is a lovely accent.
Must-Listen Tracks: “Grow Old,” “While He’s Still Around,” “Dig Your Roots,” “May We All”