What do Ziggy Marley, the Backstreet Boys and Tim McGraw have in common? If you answered, “They’re all guest contributors on Florida Georgia Line’s third studio album, Dig Your Roots,” go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back.
Though the duo of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley technically lands in the country category, those two guys aren’t afraid to blur the boundaries between their chosen genre and a whole bunch of others. Rock, rap and reggae stylings all find their way into Florida Georgia Line’s hybrid sound.
If the group’s sound is a smorgasbord of styles, however, the lyrical subject matter here is country through and through. Which is to say that on any given track, we might get a tip o’ the hat to God, girls or gin.
“God, Your Mama, and Me” vows faithful, life-giving love: “Never gonna run dry, never gonna come up empty/Now until the day I die, unconditionally/No one’s ever gonna love you more than/God, your mama and me.” Elsewhere, the song mentions going to church and praying together. “Lifer” focuses on working through conflict to move to a place of deeper commitment in marriage: “I’m you’re man and you my lady/Baby, I’m a lifer, I ain’t goin’ nowhere/Told you since day one I had to wife ya’.” We also get another shout-out to prayer (“Make more time for prayer and the Man upstairs”) as well as this poignant praise for who we become in marriage: “I believe I ain’t me without you walkin’ out in that white dress/Life without you is useless.”
“While He’s Still Around” will have you reaching for a box of tissues as a man describes his desire to make the most of the time he has left with his father: “While he’s still around/I’m gonna take him out to fish/So we can catch up on those stories/That we ain’t got to yet/ … ‘Cause you never know when the phone is gonna ring/Sayin’ heaven had it out to make you wings.” “Grow Old” is next up on the tearjerker list, as we’re treated to a litany of all the things a young husband is looking forward to as he ages gracefully with his beloved wife.
There’s more of the same on the title track, “Dig Your Roots”: “Fall in love, plant some seeds/Carve some names in the family tree/Raise your kids, love your wife/Put god first, just to live your life.” The song also seems to reference someone’s deceased father and grandfather: “Yeah, a good ol’ boy, just like my old man/Every night when I’m singing/I know he’s looking down/Up there next to Paw Paw/Get the best seats in the house.”
“May We All” celebrates patriotism, perseverance and the glories of growing up in a small town.
Is a woman supposed to feel good about being compared to a horse, a famous singer, a car or jelly? Florida Georgia Line apparently thinks the answer to that question is yes on “Smooth,” where a woman’s curves evoke lines about a “Tennessee Walker,” a “Sunday-morning Elvis,” a “Caddy from Cali” and “blackberry jam.” That combination prompts the guys to exclaim, “Girl, you’re put together perfectly/Good lord almighty/Girl, you go down good/ … There ain’t nobody/’A do me like you/The way you move that body/Girl, you’re so smooth.”
A man and a woman at a bar get handsy on “Island”: “It’s just me and you, back corner booth, we’re sitting on the same seat/Got my hands all over you, and, yeah, girl, you’re all over me/Like nobody’s watching us, baby, let them all see.” Similarly, “Summerland” combines drinking, smoking pot, skinny dipping and sex on a beach somewhere on the Gulf coast. Among other things, we hear that a man is “high as a kite,” as he tells us, “With my hands where the sun don’t tan/Don’t you worry ’bout the sand/ … I’m gonna kiss you till tomorrow/And I’m gonna do it all night.” The same combination of liquor, marijuana and sex turns up on “Heatwave.”
“H.O.L.Y.” stands for “high on loving you.” The acronym alone is problematic, and the balance of the song is more so as it fuses spiritual themes to romantic, sexually suggestive imagery: “You’re the river bank where I was baptized/Cleansed from the demons/That were killing my freedom/Let me lay you down, give me to ya’/Got you singing, babe, hallelujah.” The chorus itself gets pretty close to one of the most beloved hymns in the Christian tradition when Florida Georgia Line repeatedly describes this woman like this: “You’re holy, holy, holy, holy.” Elsewhere, the otherwise inspiring song “Music Is Healing” overstates the power and influence of music when the band sings, “Your song is playin’/It’s gonna save ya’.”
“Good Girl, Bad Boy” could be heard as a cautionary tale. Still, it does involve a faithful church-attending woman falling for a drunken “bad boy”: “And every time she’s with him, all she wants to do kiss him/Starts thinking maybe she can fix him/He’s thinking he’d love to let her try.” Despite its commitment to marital unity, “Lifer” nonetheless repeatedly describes the conflicts a couple faces with the s-word. (Profanities elsewhere on the album include a few uses each of “h—” and “d–mit.”) We also get some winking allusions to marital sex in “Lifer” as well as “Grow Old.”
One of my favorite songs on Florida Georgia Line’s latest album is “Grow Old,” where we hear about a husband’s tender hopes for a lifetime of marriage. But there’s a line in that song that also gets at the paradox of the album as a whole: “Talk our babies through the bad dreams/When they get a little older, we’ll tell them not to drink.”
It’s a great sentiment on a sentimental song. And it’s hardly the only such weepy moment on an album that often exalts marriage, faithfulness, parenthood, God, church and family.
And yet like so many other country albums, one second we’re getting nods to setting limits on kids’ behaviors while the next we’re wading through lyrics about getting stoned and drunk before having sex on a beach. Which means that if these guys take their own advice when it comes to what they teach their own kids about certain reckless behaviors, they may one day have some ‘splaining to do.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.