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Florida Georgia Line

Dig Your Roots – 2016 (Big Machine)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Florida Georgia Line

From the ribbits and Dobro on "Smooth," the lead-off song, one might think that Florida Georgia Line is eschewing its rap rock meets country past for something completely different. While at times that is true - "Smooth" has a swampy beat - Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard haven't veered so far from what brought them to the dance.

That is evident with the title track where the thwack of drum programming from long-time producer Joey Moi meets the soulful, somewhat shiny vocals. And they throw in mandolin and pedal steel for good measure in a song that takes a more mature look at one's upbringing including God, family and fun.

FGL has been roundly criticized for being the progenitors of bro-country - the good old boy mentality of how great rural southern life is with pick-up trucks, swimming holes and hot chicks. Those sentiments remain. "Summerland" is about a perfect 10 with such memorable lines as "Saltwater skinny dip waitin' one me, it's hotter in the water, good Lord/Ain't no doubt 'bout to lay you down on a beach towel/California King style, gonna do it all night, baby." Some things don't change apparently.

Yet, FGL adapts a tamer, more introspective approach on a slew of sing-along songs. The vocals are more refined, perhaps never so more as their ultra mega hit "H.O.L.Y.," though "Lifer" is a syrupy and saccharine pop ballad. The pop bent continues on "God, Your Mama, And Me," featuring the Backstreet Boys, a good choice considering that a few too many of these songs smack far more of pop sounds than country (the closing "Heatwave").

FGL throws in a few head bobbing reggae flavored songs - "Life is a Honeymoon" with Ziggy Marley (Bob Marley is name checked in the song, but for some reason so is Hendrix) and "May We All" with Tim McGraw (and perhaps a cringe-worthy line that explains exactly where Hubbard and Kelley are coming from - "play the Travis Tritt right above the Tupac").

Florida Georgia Line, by and large, sticks with the formula that got them to where they are. Don't be persuaded by the start of "Dig Your Roots." These songs may not be as hard charging sonically, but they are overwhelmingly radio ready. The dance continues.