Song Review: Dustin Lynch – “Ridin’ Roads”

The short version: “Ridin’ Roads” resumes Dustin Lynch’s hot streak of mediocrity, but at least there’s some passable elements to this.

  • Writers: Dustin Lynch, Zach Crowell, Ashley Gorley
  • Rating: 4/10

The long version: I’m not one to question artistic intentions, but at this point, it’s clear Dustin Lynch is aiming to release country music backed solely by marketing research. His recently released EP, Ridin’ Roads continues to paint him as one of country music’s most faceless, generic artists working today, but at least the lead single in the title track has some passable moments.

If this song sounds familiar, it’s because it essentially rips the melody from Lynch’s other hit, “Small Town Boy.” Apparently that was intentional. The difference is that while the production still has its issues, it also may be the best element of this track. The song tries to establish a moody, ghostly atmosphere through a combination of spacier dobro, steel guitar and electronic elements. It’s an odd mix, especially with its combination of real and fake-sounding drums. But it also creates a song where the atmosphere reigns supreme, and that’s not a bad thing for this track.

Vocally, Lynch is still a talented vocalist, but the song isn’t one that tests his range or paints him in any impressive light. He still has an annoying tendency to oversell his material, as if this night out on the town is the equivalent of winning the Super Bowl or anything but another novel concept in country music. But reserved mystique also isn’t a bad fit for him, and this is once again helped by the production setting up a more restrained atmosphere.

Lyrically though, this is essentially 2013-era bro-country where the woman in the song serves no role other than to be impressed at how much effort this narrator exhausted setting up a romantic night (he didn’t). You know the drill – the small town in question has nothing to offer, so they make their fun by … riding roads and … yeah, that’s about all there is too it. There’s of course alcohol, an unlikable narrator who’s “hittin’ curbs just to make you slide” (charming) with only one goal in mind, and very little else. Beyond the aforementioned lyric, another unlikable moment fluctuates later on when Lynch says he’s “got one hand on the wheel and the other trying to cross the line,” as if he couldn’t make the innuendos here any less subtle. It’s a shame, as the ghostly, restrained production provided this song with a nice sense of wanderlust where, at the very least, it could have coasted on clichés and at least been mediocre.

Instead, when you have Lynch behind the metaphorical wheel, there’s usually enough here to sink it down further than it needed to. “Ridin’ Roads” has some passable production moments, but the unimaginative lyricism combined with an unlikable “narrator” ultimately makes this just another Lynch single. It’s not as bad as some of his other material, but it’s certainly nothing to write home about.

(Decent 4/10)

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