Chris Young — “Neon”

Karlie Justus Marlowe | April 23rd, 2012

chrisyoungSongwriters: Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Trevor Rosen

Could “Neon” be Chris Young’s best single, album cut and vocal performance to date?

All (in this case, neon) signs point to “yes” across the board, thanks to the irresistibly laid-back brilliance of Young’s performance. Meandering, vibrant lyrics bring up the rear, pulling together a modern spin on a classic country storyline.

With the slyness of Alan Jackson and the smoothness of George Strait, “Neon” is clever – during your “weekend on the rocks,” just “put a double on your troubles” – without trying too hard. The colorful imagery infused into each verse by songwriters Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Trevor Rosen pops, while playful, unexpected phrasing keeps the tune from coming off too polished.

And while those paintings of vibrant Lone Star flowers and deep desert sunsets leap to life, they still can’t shine as bright as Young’s voice. In keeping with the honky-tonk theme, Young delivers a smooth pour of his own: the flow of word into word and note into note adds a sleepy sexiness to the overall effect, a similar but more understated version of Young’s signature breakout hit “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song).”

For all the flack he received about Neon’s hatless cover image, Young has stayed rooted in the nineties, neo-traditional throwback vibe that first got him noticed on television singing competition Nashville Star. “Neon” continues that trend, two-stepping into its rightful place at country radio. As both the title and best track from Young’s third album, it’s another indication of the young singer’s knack for creating satisfying country music.

Thumbs Up

  1. Hoggy from Oz
    April 23, 2012 at 8:13 am

    This is an absolutely brilliant song and easily Young’s best. One of the few gems among the dust of country radio.

  2. Ben Foster
    April 23, 2012 at 8:42 am

    A great review of a great song. Definitely Young’s best single yet. I’m sure this will be making some year-end best lists, and deservedly so.

  3. Jonathan Pappalardo
    April 23, 2012 at 10:01 am

    It’ll be on my year-end list and VERY highly ranked. “Neon” is easily one of the best singles of 2012 along with Alan Jackson’s “So You Don’t Have To Love Me Anymore,” The Band Perry’s “Postcards From Paris,” and George Strait’s “Drinkin’ Man.”

    As far as singles go, 2012 is shaping up to have some pretty darn good ones.

    Great review as always, Karlie. I always look forward to reading them.

  4. Carrie
    April 23, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    My favorite off an already strong album. LOVE this song.

  5. Thomas
    April 24, 2012 at 5:18 am

    …when i heard it for the first time, i thought for half a minute that tracy byrds “a cowboy and a dancer” somehow smuggled itself onto a playlist.

    this one-quarter-remake is pretty good and beautifully sung. although, in my book byrd’s song about a cowboy, a dancer, a cadillac and garter belt plus a roadtrip that answers more than the refrain suggests still beats chris young’s ode to national geographic and artificial lighting.

  6. Dave W.
    September 18, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Great song from a great album! Other highlights for me include Flashlight, Old Love Feels New and She’s Got This Thing About Her.

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