It's not surprising that Dylan Schneider has released a great EP.
Deemed "Country Music's Next Rising Star" by Billboard, and an "artist to watch" by Sounds Like Nashville, the nineteen year-old has already had a number one song on the iTunes Country Chart, opened up for Florida Georgia Line on tour, and sold out headline shows internationally. As an independent artist he has already found a great measure of success, now with a label behind him, he's set to really explode. Whole Town Talk is just the beginning.
The EP opens with an expansive, delayed riff that conjures images of highways at sunset. As the lyrics kick in we're hit with a temperament and meter that rides a pleasing line between Blues Traveller and Lil Nas X. This is country rock with a strong infusion of hip-hop; it's a party song and a good time, with a healthy dose of earned bravado. A strong opener.
As we run in to How to Country we're met with a lick reminiscent of Superstitious. It has a similar feel to Schneider's title track, but with more of a playful edge to it. The lyrics are a little extra country here, as you'd expect from the title, and Schneider brings a George Thorogood swagger to the vocals. If an HBO drama is looking for an opening theme tune, they need not look further.
Hometown Heartless is where the EP gets soulful. This is your classic country rock ballad, though it has a few modern twists. The rhythm section has a contemporary feel to it, all the guitars have stadium verb by the bucketload, and the layering of the vocals has a Superbowl half-time quality. All that while lyrically pulling from Country music scripture: Chevrolets 3:14, Small Towns 6:11, and Alcohol 5:9.
Photo by The Holy Mountain
Finally, we hit the closer, Bad Thing About a Backroad. What we have here is a nice clean heartbreak slow jam. Schneider is painting landscapes with his voice, gradually narrowing in on a smaller and smaller scene until he finally hits the nail on the head as to why he's singing. It's well-honed lyrical storytelling, and top that off with a sweet chorus hook, and you've got yourself a classic country tune.
Schneider's EP shows us two sides of the artist. The first holds a flashy, swaggering, country-rock God aesthetic, and the second shows us he has a heart of gold. He mixes classic style with modern technique, creating a sound that has something for both new and old school country fans. Lyrically, he's a straight shooter, saying what he means to say, and getting to the heart of each song. As a singer, well… the boy can sing, no question. This is the whole package. Get the EP. Listen to it and then listen to it again.