Florida Georgia Line used to be the life of the country party with songs about tattoos, trucks, and drinking, and an endless infatuation with sex, girls, and relationships. These topics overshadowed the occasional mention of the faith and upbringing of band members Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, who both grew up in the church and met while attending Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
Their latest album, Dig Your Roots, is far more reflective and subdued than much of their previous work. It shifts from a focus on the weekend party to life as a whole.
Both Tyler and Brian have recently gotten married, and songs like “Lifer” and “Grow Old” look forward, exploring what this commitment looks like over a lifetime. Faith shows up as an important ingredient for a successful relationship, and dreams of a family are valued.
The first radio single from the album, called “H.O.L.Y. (High on Loving You),” uses spiritual imagery to describe a romantic relationship and elevates the object of the song to near divine status. Florida Georgia Line places on the other person within the song on a pedestal, coming dangerously close to idolatry; the fullness of this other person's humanity is all but lost. Then again, “God, Your Mama, and Me” compares the unconditional love that God and mothers have for their children to the type of love the singer strives for in his relationships.
The song “While He’s Still Around” encourages the listener to consider the importance of spending time with parents while you can; the title track “Dig Your Roots” looks back on small-town life, growing up, and the importance of family.
Florida Georgia Line continues to write memorable melodies, and they often sneak in ingenious use of vocal rhythms that keep the listener intrigued. The instrumentation and song structure are less memorable, since they stay within common country music formulas. The album includes several collaborations with performers including Ziggy Marley (“Life Is a Honeymoon”), who combines reggae and country; the Backstreet Boys (“God, Your Mama, and Me”); and Tim McGraw (“May We All”).
Dig Your Roots may surprise listeners as it moves past the immediacy of partying, casual sex, and excessive drinking to focus on the permanency of lifelong commitment, family, and faith. I look forward to hearing what insights about life the band will uncover as they continue to mature in life and faith. (BMX)