As country music continues to evolve as a genre, a lot of the music finding its way onto radio airwaves is more of a hybrid. Is it pop? Is it hip-hop? Is it both?
But there's still a space for true, raw, heart-on-your-sleeve country music when it's done right. And that's exactly what Nashville-based crooner Dylan Smucker has managed to do.
His new album Old Letters arrived recently, a seven-song project which he says he spent much of the past year crafting. "They are songs of love, loss, elation and pain," he said of the record before its release. "Every song is a piece of my life and once I release this album it won’t be mine anymore, it will be yours."
Previously the frontman of rock outfit Iron Vessel, Smucker isn't exactly a newcomer to music itself, but he sounds like an old soul on this new record, which is rich in sound and brimming with heartfelt lyricism. And while he's only 25, this independently released album could easily soundtrack a smoke-filled parlor alongside the likes of Waylon Jennings and Marty Robbins.
On "Cowboy Killers," the pain is incredibly tangible. On "I'm So Blue," it's hard to ignore the Johnny Cash influence, while Smucker echoes a young Elvis Presley on "Spirit of the Buffalo." All the while, he maintains an authenticity insuring his own material is neither imitation nor duplicative.
If this is only the beginning for Smucker, he's off to quite the start.
Hear Old Letters below.