By Maxim Mower
RD carries such an affable, likable and high-energy persona that you find yourself desperately wanting to love every song on this project. Unfortunately, the brightest sparks are fleeting.
Following a supremely successful trip across the pond for a series of UK shows in October, Russell Dickerson is hot off the heels of touring with his idol, Tim McGraw. In case this hadn’t provided him enough momentum, his new, self-titled album is being released in the slipstream of his Gold-certified Jake Scott collaboration and Holler Single-of-the-Year favourite, ‘She Likes It’.
Over the years, Dickerson has honed a sonic marriage between his stadium-sound and boyfriend-country themes revolving around, well, his actual marriage. However, with the toned-down nostalgia of ‘Blame It On Being Young’, coupled with the low-key, greyscale album art, you cannot help but wonder whether this project will mark a gear-shift from his trademark, larger-than-life anthems to a rawer, stripped-back focus on songwriting.
It is as these thoughts are swimming between your headphones that ‘Sorry’ explodes through the speakers, and we’re jolted back down to RD terra-firma. It’s an exciting burst of candied pop, but one that quickly turns into a sugar-crash headache. Similarly, ‘I Remember’ is a fun Yee-DM concoction, but one that feels a tad old-fashioned. It stands in the shadow of ‘I Believe’, which serves up an energizing dose of carpe diem and perfectly suits Dickerson’s high-octane delivery.
The main concern is whether Dickerson is a little too slick and polished for the modern Country landscape, where new ground is being broken by a rougher, rawer aesthetic and demo-esque sounds.
Nevertheless, Dickerson’s genre fluidity is refreshing. ‘She’s Why’ sounds like a throwback Usher song - it weirdly and inexplicably works, but the trite lyrics end up tainting it. ‘Over and Over’ provides an opportunity for RD to really evoke some emotion in the intimate moments - but he attacks it too hard, the heavy production diluting any tenderness.
‘Just Like Your Mama’ does manage to pull it off, as Dickerson sings to his son about how he hopes he’ll grow up to be like his wife. Adding a personal voice note of his son is a wonderfully moving way to finish the album, showing Dickerson can add candid sentiment to his arena-sized songs.
RD carries such an affable, likable and high-energy persona that you find yourself desperately wanting to love every song on this project. Unfortunately, the brightest sparks are fleeting, and there are few times when this album really fires on all cylinders.
6.0 / 10.
Russell Dickerson's 2022 self-titled album is released on November 4th via Triple Tigers. You can purchase the album from one of Holler's selected partners below: