A soft strum of the guitar is all that it takes to rouse the attention of listeners in “They Don’t Play ‘Em Like That,” one of the dozen songs that comprise Think I’ll Carry It On, the latest album from country singer Richard Lynch. Like the other eleven tracks that join it in this treasure chest of twang and tonality, “They Don’t Play ‘Em Like That” is loaded with an undying Americana that is hard to come by in mainstream country music these days, and while Lynch isn’t reinventing the framework of the genre in his new LP, he’s playing to a faction of Nashville’s longtime audience that has been neglected by the establishment for far too long now. Think I’ll Carry It On is old school country at its finest, and that’s certainly no small statement to make.
There’s a tremendous amount of instrumental detail in this record, with songs like the balladic “Back in 1953,” fire-starting “Fast Times and Easy Money,” “Keyboard Cowboy” (featuring Donna Lynch in a brief guest appearance) and the bluegrass-influenced “Daddy’s Guitar” packing some of the heaviest string harmonies that I’ve heard in a Richard Lynch album thus far in his career. Unlike his peers in the major label-led mainstream, he puts just as much effort into making the melodic backdrop of these tracks as evocative and heartfelt in tone as any of his actual singing is. Think I’ll Carry It On is much more than an exercise in pastoral poetry and decadent down-south grooving; this is the sort of full-color depiction of traditional country music that many of us, myself included, have been begging for these last few years.
You can tell that Lynch has a personal investment in “One Breath Away,” “We’re American Proud” and the gospel-tinged “Pray on the Radio,” and it goes far beyond their intimate lyrical content. There’s an emotionality in his voice when he serenades us with the spiritually-strengthened verses of “Pray on the Radio” that transcends the limits of rhyme and rhythm altogether, and I wouldn’t say that it’s inaccessible to those of a faith different from that of Lynch’s at all. Much like the rich cultural fabric of the country that inspires so much of his music, Lynch’s latest record is a melodic melting pot of material that is as indebted to the work of his predecessors as it is a forward-thinking, constantly evolving artistic entity.
This has been an incredible year for country music so far, with scores of young up and comers making headlines in both the underground and the mainstream, but Richard Lynch’s Think I’ll Carry It On definitely gives us some of the most straightforward and relatable songcraft that I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing this season. Whether you’ve been following him since his debut or are just now discovering his music for the first time through this stellar new album, this is a sterling listen for anyone who enjoys unvarnished country sung by a deeply gifted singer and lyricist. I’m looking forward to seeing him hit the road in support of this set, and once you’ve heard it for yourself, I think you’ll share my sentiments.