90s country is back on the upswing, and either you can get your fix from some new performer who was still soiling their diapers or learning multiplication tables when Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn were dominating country radio, or you can go directly to the source. Sure, the best way to get your fill of 90s country is, well, to break out those old compact disks and get to spinning. But if they feel a bit worn out, Ronnie Dunn is ready to give you a refill.
The Brooks & Dunn singer has had quite an eclectic career ever since the duo announced a semi split in 2009. In 2014, they started reuniting again to open shows for Reba and other appearances, and ever since have seemed to remain chummy, and still quite popular, receiving CMA and ACM nominations for Duo of the Year in the last round of awards. But where Kix Brooks seems content as a radio personality, Ronnie still wants to record new music.
Dunn’s 2011 self-titled solo album is actually pretty underrated and pretty damn country, with “Cost of Livin'” and “Bleed Red” being some of Dunn’s best songs of his career, with Brooks & Dunn or otherwise. But Ronnie didn’t seem ready to give up his relevance on radio, and got caught chasing trends a little bit, and getting away from his roots. His 2016 album Tattooed Heart was definitely a mixed bag of more contemporary sounds as Ronnie was pulling all kinds of stunts trying to get radio’s attention and perhaps trying to start an insurrection in country, and yet still not getting played on the radio.
So now Ronnie Dunn appears to be doing what every country artist should do in the twilight of their career: be grateful for the money they’ve accrued and the popularity they’ve enjoyed, and just do what they want, radio be damned. And in the case of Ronnie Dunn, it happens to be something that is actually kind of relevant in country music again, including on the radio.
To be released on July 29th, 100 Proof Neon will be Ronnie Dunn looking to reprise his place as a more classic country artist. In fact, listening to the two early tracks—“Broken Neon Hearts” and the newly-released “Honky Tonk Town” with Jake Worthington—this might be more traditional country than even 90’s Brooks & Dunn, which always was a bit contemporary for its day if we’re being honest. The new stuff is definitely country. We’ll just have to see if it’s also good, with quality songwriting like we heard with “Cost of Livin'” and “Bleed Red.”
One positive development of the 90s country resurgence is that not only is it giving the catalogs of a lot of older artists a retrospective look, it’s also giving them a good opportunity to get back in the game. Ronnie Dunn has one of the most iconic voices in country music history. That’s one of the reasons he’s in the Country Music Hall of Fame. And that’s the reason he still deserves out attention.
100 Proof Neon is out July 29th, and also features a collaboration with Parker McCollum.
1. Broken Neon Hearts
2. Honky Tonk Town (feat. Jake Worthington)
3. Two Steppers, Waltzes, and Shuffles
4. She’s Why I Drink Whiskey
5. Where The Neon Lies
6. The Blade
7. If Love Ever Comes My Way
8. Somethin’ I Can Have
9. Honky Tonk Skin
10. Road to Abilene (feat. Parker McCollum)
11. Good Bartender