Album Review

Tyler Hubbard - Tyler Hubbard

Hubbard’s first solo outing is marked with the pitfall of modern country radio: too much reliance on hooks over-honest lyrical depth. Nevertheless, he shows glimmers of the sort of songwriting heft that creates long-standing careers in the business.

Holler Country Music

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“I’ve been broke a time or two,” Tyler Hubbard sings on ‘Tough’ a thematic centerpiece to his debut solo LP. His self-titled set is, more than anything, a celebration of small towns and the trials and tribulations that come from simply living life.

Its glossiness leans into the mainstream with most entries containing lyrical expectation. When Hubbard guns for deeper, more insightful stories 一 as he does with ‘Miss My Daddy’, a song he wrote alone as an ode to his father, who died in a 2007 helicopter crash 一 he shows great promise. “Miss the way I had it, back when he was ‘round / Might have took it all for granted then / But I sure wouldn’t now,” he confides. It’s a real tearjerker that further contextualizes many of the other tracks, namely those about soaking in every moment (‘Inside Out’, ‘Paradise’). On ‘35s’, he vows to himself to “do a little more living than getting by.”

On ‘Way Home,’ Hubbard reflects on his youth being “hellbent and reckless,” eventually making peace with the uncertainty of life and his mistakes. “I got lost until I got found / Oh, and now that it’s well with my soul,” he weaves in the importance of faith in his life. “I just ride in the seat next to Jesus ‘cause I know He knows the way home.”

Where ‘Dancing in the Country’ lights up with the electricity of late-night escapes, ‘Everybody Needs a Bar’ rolls off the tongue with a sticky-sweet groove. Across an ambitious 18 tracks, he totters between beer-guzzling anthems (‘How Red’) and other reflective musings (‘Small Town Me’) with ease. He owns both the radio candy and the more cutting, contemplative moments. The vocal may not be nearly as inspired as it could be, yet when he pumps on the brakes and remains still, he can deliver with the best of them.

Hubbard’s first solo outing is marked with the pitfall of modern country radio: too much reliance on hooks over-honest lyrical depth. Nevertheless, he still shows glimmers of the sort of songwriting heft that creates long-standing careers in this business. Perhaps his second LP will show us what he’s truly made of.

6/10

Tyler Hubbard's self-titled solo debut is out on Friday 27th January via UMG Nashville. You can purchase the record from one of Holler's selected partners below:

Holler Country Music

UMG Nashville | 2023

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