Album Review – Dillon Massengale’s “Buckleshines”
In many respects it feels like a victory and cause for celebration any time a truly traditional country record is released. Making country music the right way requires such an uphill battle in today’s country landscape that it takes fortitude and dedication. To have a traditional country album from a 19-year-old is even more significant because it gives us all hope that these original sounds and modes of country music are being shepherded into the future.
When it comes to Dillon Massengale though, that’s just where the victories begin. You would have absolutely no clue listening to his new album Buckleshines, but Dillon Massengale was diagnosed with high functioning autism when he was 4 years old. He struggled to communicate, wouldn’t make eye contact with others, and doctors warned that Dillon may not be able to do the daily things many of us take for granted.
Dillon’s mother is Melody (Hart) Massengale—an award-winning fiddler and vocalist who’s performed with the likes of Joe Diffie, Mickey Gilley, and others over the years. But early in Dillon’s life, he didn’t like music performances, or movies, or anything with loud noise, even though he showed a gift for music by humming melodies in perfect pitch even before being able to sing them.
But instead of resigning Dillon Massengale to a life of compromises due to his diagnosis, his family used diet, therapy, country music, and tons of prayers to gently but confidently push Dillon to break through barriers. By the time he was 11, he was performing on stage in Branson. Dillon regularly performs with the Melody Hart Family Show with mother and father Wayne and Melody, and brother Garrett on drums. Not only did Dillon gain the confidence to step up to the mic and sing, he also plays bass.
But you don’t need the remarkable back story to enjoy Buckleshines, you just need to love traditional country music. Dillon’s confident baritone and natural twang make for a quality listen from cover to cover. Recording Max D. Barnes’ “That’s Why I Sing This Way” about being disciplined with swats from a George Jones record is fitting. He may not sound like Jones himself (who does)? But you can tell Dillon Massengale was born to sing country music.
Though Buckleshines includes a few songs that some astute country fans will recognize like Eddie Rabbitt’s “Drivin’ My Life Away,” it also has just the right mix of obscure tunes, including numerous one’s from Missouri-based songwriter Splinter Middleton to qualify it as an original album. Some of the songs like “Dreams Come True” may come across a little sappy to general audiences, but they’re all quality selections nonetheless.
Not only does Dillon Massengale impress himself, the legendary Junior Brown and Leona Williams appear on the album too. Rhonda Vincent appeared on Dillon’s previous self-titled album, and also bestowed Dillon with a Grand Ole Opry debut in August of 2021 when the two sung their duet inside the circle.
Dillon sure knows how to make the right company in country music, and with the way he expresses his passion for true country music, the traditional country community has welcomed him into the fold. This is also underscored by all of the top notch pickers that appear on Buckleshines, with the final track “Quit Pickin’ On Me” putting on a veritable country guitar pickin’ clinic. The instrumentation on this album is superlative throughout, and worth the price of admission alone.
Since traditional country like this has fallen out of style with the mainstream, albums like Buckleshines don’t get made without a lot of passion, love, and community. But it’s also that wholesomeness and warm feeling that only traditional country can convey that makes an album like Bluckleshines so valued in the right hands.
People have used country music to overcome many adversities in their lives: heartbreak, loneliness, incarceration, and addiction to name a few. Dillon Massengale does the same, though you would never know it by listening to this album. All you hear is great country music made the way it’s supposed to be made by a young man who will be thankfully keeping the flame of true country music burning for many years to come.
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April 1, 2023 @ 9:34 am
Did he release two albums or is the self titled release on Spotify older and just new on the platform?
April 1, 2023 @ 9:40 am
I had that same question. “Buckleshines” is the newest album. The self-titled album was released a while back, and is just now making it onto streaming platforms.
April 1, 2023 @ 9:49 am
According to his website the self titled album was released in April 2021.
April 1, 2023 @ 12:10 pm
I was there when Rhonda Vincent brought him onstage at the Opry and sang a duet with him.
Never heard of him but downloaded his self titled album which I enjoyed. I sent a photo of the two of them via email and heard back from his mom which was nice. So pulling for him and wish him all the best! Good stuff!
April 1, 2023 @ 8:26 pm
April 2, 2023 @ 2:08 pm
You’re welcome! I love your sound. One thing I would recommend is to release a lossless quality version of these albums. Even with a premium subscription, the streaming services seem to have MP3 quality tracks.
April 4, 2023 @ 5:02 am
Amazon music is showing a lossless quality version for me
April 4, 2023 @ 7:04 am
Did you check the spectrograms on those?
April 4, 2023 @ 7:04 am
Did you check the spectograms on those?
April 6, 2023 @ 8:02 am
You are very welcome Dillon! It was a blessing to see your first time at the Opry and I hope there are many more to come! Keep singing that wonderful music!
Gerry L Eckert
April 2, 2023 @ 7:54 am
Where you from Terry ???
April 6, 2023 @ 8:07 am
I live in New Hampshire but try to visit Nashville and hear some great music while on our travels through. I highly recommend the Time Jumpers on Monday nights at 3rd & Lindley….great musicians, excellent music, and you never know who will be there! One visit, we met John McEuen, banjo great and former member of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and dj great Eddie Stubbs.
April 1, 2023 @ 12:56 pm
There’s a real revival or 80s-90s era sounds spearheaded by literal kids. Alex Key, Massengale, Low Gap, Drake Milligan, and others are all putting out quality throwback stuff, even though the heyday or 90s country was before any of them were born.
April 1, 2023 @ 6:30 pm
I absolutely LOVE this. Sounds really similar to George Strait. This is already a candidate for album of the year in my humble opinion.
April 1, 2023 @ 8:29 pm
April 2, 2023 @ 2:11 pm
You’re welcome! My only recommendation would be to release a lossless quality tracks. Even with a premium streaming subscription, the tracks they stream are lossy. But I love your sound!
April 1, 2023 @ 7:00 pm
36 monthly listeners on Spotify. Really dug deep for this one – shows the credit to this site and the research you do.
April 2, 2023 @ 6:44 am
If you don’t grin from ear to ear during “Buckle Shines” you don’t like country music.
April 3, 2023 @ 2:19 pm
this is a nice palate cleanser after the CMT awards trainwreck
April 4, 2023 @ 7:00 am
I can never support a person who insists on being photographed with his bass guitar. And those lyrics? “Dance all night”? “you can shine my buckle”? Dude, you’re not fooling anyone. This is pure pornography being foisted by someone who thinks holding a bass guitar makes him a musicians. Songs kinda nice though.
April 4, 2023 @ 8:31 am
Dillon Massengale is a musician and has overcome a lot of adversities in life to earn the right to hold that bass guitar. And if you think being photographed with a bass guitar isn’t cool, try telling that to Jackson Taylor. You might want to cover your head afterwards.