Randall King - Into The Neon

Warner Music Nashville


If there is a more exciting, relatively new, young country singer than Randall King, then please tell me? His second major label release is incontrovertible evidence of a great neo-traditional country talent. In his voice you can hear shades of Alan Jackson, George Strait, Gary Allan and Keith Whitley, all woven together to create one of the most incredibly gifted voices making ‘real country music’ in this day and age. Featuring some of the most dynamic vocal performances of his career, the various influences are audible throughout the generous 18 tracks, but Randall puts a distinctive, and dramatic, stamp on them. His deep well of experience as a touring musician has helped him zero in on an aesthetic all his own. Showcasing the next era of his musical evolution, the album incorporates his Texas soul with a spoonful of Nashville and a dash of true country grit. The album is enjoyable from start to finish, with some of the smoothest and tightest playing and singing I’ve heard recently on a major label country album. There’s a preciseness to everything—both music and vocals—that’s not always present in today’s excessive rock-inflected country music, reminding listeners that what you don’t play is just as important as what you do play. The result is an album that already stands the test of time, courtesy of the fact that every offering keeps to that singular spirit of classic country through its emphasis, execution, and articulation. Overall, the album is full of swagger, but also a sensitivity that foretells Randall King’s staying power as his brand of young man’s country matures.

The album does a solid job of matching its philosophical undertones with flat-out enjoyable music, ranging all the way from soft-spoken ballads to two-steppin’ barroom anthems. Though he only co-wrote a third of the songs here, his choice of outside songs is inspired. With a timeless baritone and an old soul maturity that belies his youth, he tackles Alan Jackson’s little-known The One You’re Waiting On, with sighing steel and tasteful lead guitar adding to the pathos. Penned by Jackson’s nephew Adam Wright and his wife Shannon Wright, this reflective barroom saga is full of pure emotion as the lyrics tell a tale of hope at the highest level. Having played the bars and honky-tonks across Texas over the past ten years or so, his own writing is coloured by songs that depict barroom life, as typified by album opener One Night Dance. A slow country waltz that will have you swaying along to the hypnotic rhythm and affecting narrative about a powerful romantic connection. He ups the tempo for the rockin’ Honk ’Til I Die, with dynamic interplay between steel, fiddle, piano and lead guitar, as he delivers a robust vocal sure to have folks swirling around the kitchen or dance floor. He manages to deliver a positive outlook on the up-tempo, yet descriptive break-up song, But It Ain’t, as he still hangs out at the same local honky-tonk, sleeps in the same ol’ bed and drives the same truck … but it ain’t the same since she’s been gone.

Regret and longing tell the story on Damn You Look Good, a bracing post-break-up ballad. Softly thrumming guitars act as the main accompaniment to Randall’s silken vocals. There’s some good ol’ down-home advice on offer to the jaunty Right Things Right, with an insistent chorus that should go down so well in the stadiums, with the audience singing along. The fiddle driven Coulda Been Love, sounds like it could’ve been an outtake from Alan Jackson’s HERE IN THE REAL WORLD; while his vocals have a tone a little like Gary Allan, particularly on Hang Of Hangin’ On and Burns Like Her, which is not a bad thing. He closes this extravagant country collection with I Don’t Whiskey Anymore, a co-write with Canadian Gordie Sampson, with a heart-tugging lyric that will pierce anyone. What’s not to like! This album is a true treasure.


January 2024