Country Jukebox Jury EP: Tyler Hubbard – Dancin’ in the Country

We know T-Hub will release his debut solo album in January next year. To whet fan appetites, here are six tracks which will end up on that project, which is released via his Hubbard House imprint on EMI Nashville.

They include the first single 5 Foot 9, a hymn to Tyler’s wife and the things the Lord makes for man to use. This is the type of woman that, a decade ago, T-Hub would be winding the windows down to say hello to, but nowadays he is a father and needs to make the McGraw Pivot.

The McGraw Pivot is when a young buck grows into a legacy artist. He might not command the same interest from new country fans, especially with hotter and younger acts on the market, but the millions of fans he (or she, but 95% of the time it’s a he) already has will buy his records and show up to see his shows. Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley and Kenny Chesney are also in this category, as is Keith Urban, who has been a star for 20 years and doesn’t need to prove himself any more.

In 2022, Tyler finds himself at the same place and it’s interesting to note that Keith Urban was in the room for the EP’s jittery, anthemic title track, which is as great a song as you would expect from a session which also had Jon Nite and Ross Copperman in it. There are references to Alabama and Alan Jackson and it’s very on brand, especially with Lucchese boots stomping on the floor.

It’s even more interesting to note that Keith’s fans will be entertained by T-Hub on his fall tour of arenas, including a couple of dates in Georgia and Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Those Urban fanatics will enjoy being warmed up by a mix of FGL hits and T-Hub solo cuts, coming to a country radio station near you soon.

Baby Gets Her Lovin’, which has Canaan Smith in the writing credits, is a meet-cute with all the contemporary country sonic touchstones and themes: fiddle, enormous drums, lyrics about snakeskin boots and getting free drinks from guys like T-Hub. Alabama, strangely, get another namecheck, which reminds the listener that the first line of Anything Goes is ‘Alabama on the boombox’.

FGL House on Broadway in Nashville now has its anthem in Everybody Needs A Bar, where our narrator talk-sings some lines about ‘Friday at 5.01’ in a way that is very Morgan Wallenish. Ronnie Dunn has just put out a whole album of this sort of thing, and it is in every way more interesting than T-Hub’s list of things you can do at FGL House or any other bar you choose (but please consider FGL House to host a bacherlorette celebration).

The ubiquitous Rhett Akins, who has given some songs to McGraw but is best known for some Blake Shelton tunes, is on the catchy I’m The Only One, where three chords underscore Tyler’s love for his beloved whom he can ‘love in the middle of the night’ (hmmm). Inside and Out is an Old Dominion co-write, as Brad and Trevor from the band bring the mood down. It’s T-Hub instead of Matt Ramsay talk-singing his way through a love song (‘I can’t believe I get to hold ya’). It’s a wedding video montage song that Tim McGraw has been doing for 20 years, so it’s no surprise Tyler is following the McGraw Pivot to the letter.

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