Randall King, “Into the Neon” – Album Review

Randall King
Andrew Quinn

Since the beginning of his career, Randall King has maintained a clear and concise message with his style of music: country is cool again. With every release, the same comparisons to George Strait come back around. While mixing in callbacks to the traditional 80’s country sound that made the genre popular, King and his producer Jared Conrad keep a modern edge that keeps the listeners on their heels. 

In his third full-length LP, the Texan artist, now under Warner Music Nashville, showcases a remarkable evolution as a well-rounded performer. It’s a hefty 18 tracks long, and Randall covers a lot of topical ground, starting with four rip-roaring party tunes like “When My Baby’s In Boots” and “One Night Dance,” before downshifting into the smoother “Hang of Hanging On.” To a large extent, it doesn’t feel like this album has a unifying theme but presents itself more as a showcase of Randall’s various musical interests.

While Into the Neon may not tell one cohesive story, there’s still plenty of artful storytelling to be found within its individual tracks. One of its first singles, “Hang of Hanging On” is a raw exploration of navigating the aftermath of a breakup. Writers Brett Sheroky and Brice Long skillfully articulate the struggle of finding a ‘new normal’ without a lover’s once-beloved presence.

“The One You’re Waiting On” is the other slower standout; nestled in the middle of the album, it’s a standard checklist song that finds our narrator comparing himself to the person that he was dumped for. However, the song’s “X factor” that puts it above the rest is once again King’s phenomenal delivery. His crisp annunciation and gradual crescendos imbue the chorus and bridge with plenty of emotional punch. King and Bedford wrap the song in a majestic arrangement of steel and guitar, complementing King’s evocative vocals.

On an album packed with high-octane energy, there aren’t a lot of all-star lyrical moments that will make a listener gush over any one song, but the sound of this project is really what makes it shine. Now a part of Warner Music Nashville, Randall King is staying true to his roots and holding down his niche with fiddle, steel, and robust percussion that punctuates key moments without getting too noisy. The shimmery “Hard To Be Humble” definitely shows out in this way, with a peppy cadence that keeps listeners tapping their toes.

Three albums into his budding career, the George Strait comparisons stand just as tall as they once did. Every line commands attention, especially in a live setting. His optimistically 80s-reminiscent tone brings a breath of fresh air; when many new acts try to wrangle a darker energy, he stays in his upper register giving fans something they can always dance to. There’s no track on Into the Neon worth skipping; everything is well-orchestrated and fun to listen to. While the project may lack a distinct overall identity, each song stands alone as an enjoyable piece. In essence, this album represents a lateral move in Randall King’s catalog and career but is in no way a step backward.

8.2

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