Russell Dickerson is back with his phenomenal third studio album – his self-titled record – that shows further his versatility and range as an artist.
One of the many downsides of the chaos of 2020 was that many projects managed to get undeservedly lost in the shuffle. One of those projects was Russell Dickerson’s Southern Symphony. Dickerson had previously smashed into the country scene in 2015 with his breakout track ‘Yours’ that quickly shot to number one, but this project saw Dickerson get more nostalgic and introspective on a project that was as likeable as the man behind the tracks.
Since then, Dickerson has returned to the UK to huge success – most recently for a string of headline shows in October. Dickerson has followed up the success of ‘Yours’ with his string of number one hits, most recently with the Jake Scott collaboration – ‘She Likes It.’ Dickerson is one of those unique artists who is able – in his longer album projects – to marry a stadium-ready sound with introspective ballads that show the heart behind the noise. On his third studio album – his self-titled record – released today, Dickerson dives deeper into his own psyche for inspiration, looking both backwards and forwards in his bid to tell the stories that he paints on the 15-track LP. What is most notable about the project is how earnestly he blows his sonic inspiration wide open – there’s hip hop notes here alongside old school country.
The album opens with ‘Blame It On Being Young,’ a track drenched with a nostalgia that sets the tone for the record to come, marking a re-set in Dickerson’s sound, beginning with a more raw and stripped-back sound that focusses on the lyricism – a departure from some of his more heavy, anthemic sounds that is followed through on later stripped-back track ‘I Remember.’
Still, there is enough on the album to delight fans of RD’s stadium-ready sound. So ‘Sorry’ is a bold, anthemic track filled with the country-pop huge sounds which have carved out his path to this point and ‘All The Same Friends’ is filled with a joyful country swagger.
There is definitively a marked shift though in Dickerson’s music, away from the bro country sounds with which he has flirted before. So, on ‘Big Wheels’ he brings in a hip-hope edged sound that moves the sound away from a heavy country sound and on ‘She’s why’ he mixes the sound with a nostalgic RnB-tinged sound.
As ever, some of Dickerson’s best moments come in on his stripped-back moments of sentimentality and love letters to his wife. So, two of the strongest moments on the record come on ‘I Wonder’ and ‘God Gave Me A Girl.’ On the first, Dickerson puts himself back in the place of that time when he had briefly broken up with his wife, musing on what his life might be like without her, the track showcases his vocals at their best – imbued with a rich emotion – whereas, the latter is a charming track, filled with love and emotion. Finally ‘Just Like Your Mama’ may be the most tender lyrical moment on the record as Dickerson hopes that his son will grow up to be just like his wife.
There is a huge amount to enjoy on Dickerson’s self-titled record – balanced between tender sentimentality and lyricism and huge stadium-ready sounds that are amped up a notch on this project with a dose of influences from outside the country genre. The record is an indication of the direction of where his sound will go, and the future looks bright and exciting, whilst retaining a foot in Dickerson’s love of 90s country and nostalgia.