By Maxim Mower
Regardless of where you go in Music City, you could be forgiven for feeling as though you're standing at a crossroads.
In 2023, country music emerged out of a multi-decade-long wilderness to become one of the most dominant genres in the US, with a handful of megastars breaking away from the pack to lock horns atop the Billboard Hot 100.
Arguably the most fascinating aspect of this has been the jarring disparity between the sonic blueprints being championed by today's country trailblazers - it hasn't been a case of a few artists striking gold by going down a singular stylistic path.
There's the Hip Hop-infused, earworm-producing post-bro country of Morgan Wallen, the folk-leaning sparseness of Zach Bryan and the middle-of-the-road, no-frills balladry of Luke Combs. Each has enjoyed spells at the business-end of the all-genre charts, and it's yet to become apparent which sound will triumph in terms of longevity.
While an increasing number of today's up-and-comers have taken a leaf out of the Zach Bryan playbook, Dylan Marlowe serves as one of the primary flag-bearers of the next generation of artists inspired by the likes of Morgan Wallen, HARDY and Florida Georgia Line.
Even so, the Georgia-based prodigy has nothing but respect for the folkier outer edges of contemporary country, “There are so many of those guys in that movement that I'm a fan of. Wyatt Flores is awesome, I really like Sam Barber and I really like Dylan Gossett”.
Nonetheless, Dylan Marlowe is not about to go chasing down a sound or sub-genre that isn't authentic to him, “I feel like the people that burn out are the people that chase it, dude, and I'm gonna just stay in my lane [whether] it takes two years, five years or five months for it to work...I think a lot of people flock to [folk] because it's the cool thing to like right now...” After again underlining his appreciation for the frontrunners of this movement, Marlowe adds with a smile, “You're not going to hear any folk music coming from me just because that's what's popular”.
It's safe to say Dylan Marlowe's own sound, which blends down-home, HIXTAPE-esque lyricism, raucous, electric guitar-driven instrumentals and charismatic vocals, is also proving pretty popular. His new single, the Dylan Scott-assisted anthem, ‘Boys Back Home’, has earned Marlowe his first ever Billboard charting single, while the simmering, heartbroken ‘I Will (When You Do)’ with Avery Anna has racked up almost 5 million streams and counting on Spotify. Although just 26, Dylan Marlowe already has a No. 1 single to his name, having co-written Jon Pardi's smash hit, ‘Last Night Lonely’, alongside Joe Fox and Jimi Bell.
This has collectively ensured the sense of anticipation is skyrocketing ahead of Dylan Marlowe's debut album, which the ‘You See Mine’ crooner is readying for the Spring.
Marlowe reassures listeners that the project is being honed as we speak, “I have so many songs stockpiled because we've done a bunch of singles. I really want to do a record and we're gearing up for [it]. We've already got...six songs cut for the record”.
He goes on to reveal that he's aiming to put out his debut album in May 2024, before qualifying this by underlining, “I have so many songs that I really want to get out, and [I'm excited] to have that first ‘artist's project’. It's hard to make a piece of art single by single. Unfortunately, we're in the days where that works the best right now for people's attention spans. But I've put all my heart into this record, and the guys that have written with me have too. It's really next level for me”.
Again, there's a refreshing sense that Dylan Marlowe has his sights set solely on his own horizon, without being tempted by self-defeating comparisons, “I don't know where the envelope sits for everybody else. But as far as pushing my own envelope, we definitely did that. If it flops, I don't really care [because] it's gonna be the best piece of work I put out. And if it doesn't, then that'll just be a blessing, you know?”
Despite his 2023 Dirt Road When I Die EP clearly - and rightfully - retaining a special place in Marlowe's discography, he emphasises that his debut album will not feature any of those tracks.
In addition, fans can look forward to a new single, the recently teased ‘You'd Get It’, which responds to critics of ‘Boys Back Home’, being released on February 2nd.
Marlowe expands on his approach, “I personally hate when people put out records and there are like seven songs you've already heard, and then four new ones...I would assume the only songs that get brought over are going to be ‘Boys Back Home’ and then [the song] we put out at the end of this month. Other than that, it's gonna hopefully be 12 or 13 brand new songs that nobody's ever heard of”.
As followers keenly await the release of fan-favourites such as ‘You'd Get It’ and ‘Hungover in a Deer Stand’, the latter of which draws on HARDY's arena-sized rock impulses, it feels as though with each taste of new music the buzz surrounding Dylan Marlowe gets a little louder - and it certainly seems this hype is well placed.
With ‘Boys Back Home’ on track to become his biggest song to date and a slew of fellow potential chart-toppers up his sleeve, 2024 is shaping up to be another ‘Record High’ for Dylan Marlowe.
In addition, Dylan Marlowe delved into his dream collaborations, the impact HARDY has had on his music, his favourite song to perform and more:
“We've been sitting on that song for a while...I showed [Dylan Scott] and he was like, ‘Man, let me sing on that!’ And I was like, ‘You serious?’...So his management okayed it and we got his vocal on it [in 2021]. Then his record [Livin’ My Best Life] was coming out...So we waited and ‘Record High’ was supposed to be my first radio single, but then some other things happened and my team was like, ‘Well, what next?’...They were like, ‘What about ‘Boys Back Home’’?
“I called Dylan, and he was like, ‘I don't care what I have going on. We're gonna put this song out’. It's funny because I actually had to re-sing it - [the recording] was from two years prior, so I sounded a little younger. I've gotten a little bit better at singing over the last two years!...It was probably two, almost three years of us sitting on that song. So I'm glad it finally got to see the light of day”.
‘You'd Get It’: “I posted a little clip on my Instagram of it...it's pointed towards all the haters about ‘Boys Back Home’, so I'm excited to get that one out. It's kind of my middle finger song”.
‘Hungover in a Deer Stand’: “‘Hungover in a Deer Stand’ came up because we were at a farm picking songs for the record, and we drank a bit and I went hunting the next morning and I was a little hungover...! It's so important to be [in nature] because it's quiet, [time moves] slower than [when you're] writing or playing shows”.
“HARDY is insane, dude...My dad was a drummer in a rock and roll band before he had me...so I vividly remember a lot of Linkin Park, a lot of Skillet, a lot of Nickelback, a lot of Three Doors Down...I love all the melodies in pop punk and a lot of my [sound] comes from that. I like the storytelling of country and I love the energy you get from pop punk”.
“I love playing ‘You See Mine’, that's probably my favourite moment that I look forward to. I feel like I've been chasing that same kind of thing in the writing room the last few months, just trying to write some more songs with that energy. Every time I play that, I feel like it just puts you in a different headspace”.
“So I have a buddy, Abram Dean...We've been best friends since I moved to town, and we've hung out a lot and he lives with Avery's producer, David Fanning. One day I was writing with Joe [Fox] and Abram, and I was like, ‘Man, I love Avery's stuff. It'd be sick to do a song with her’, and he was like, ‘Well I live with David, and she told David she thinks it'd be sick to do a song with you!’ Abram set it up and we had a five-way write. We knew pretty instantly that it was gonna be a good song, and I'm really thankful that she let me sing on it with her when she put it out”.
“My dream collaboration with somebody that's dead would be Keith Whitley, for sure...Alive, I would love to do something with The Band Camino...I actually got to knock off one of my bucket list writes the other day, which was Josh Thompson, and that was really fun”.
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