Since its release in January, Dustin Lynch's debut single, "Cowboys and Angels," has sold almost 500,000 digital singles. The singer-songwriter from Tullahoma, Tenn., is hoping for similar success with his just-released self-titled debut album on Broken Bow Records.
"These past seven months, I've gone from hoping and praying that somebody will like my music to realizing that, hey, we've got one song we know people are liking," Lynch said during a recent interview with CMT.com.
"Cowboys and Angels" is a highly-relatable tune focusing on the connection between wild men and the women who love them.
Tim Nichols, Josh Leo and Lynch co-wrote the song upon first meeting one another.
"I had 'Cowboys and Angels' written down as an idea, and so did Tim Nichols -- which was weird for two guys to have the same idea at the same moment that had never met each other," he notes.
He says the trio decided, "We want this to be a universal love song, make it a song that everybody can make their own."
As luck would have it, that's exactly what happened.
"People -- no matter where we go in the country right now -- are singing back 'Cowboys and Angels' to us," he says. "And they're meaning it."
The newcomer describes the single as "the foundation of album one," but he's also eager to unveil more up-tempo tracks.
"It's a very spirited album," he explains.
Produced by Brett Beavers and Luke Wooten, Lynch's CD features 13 songs, 10 of which he wrote or co-wrote.
Although he's unsure what his next single will be, Lynch promises, "It's going to be an up-tempo song and a lot of fun."
The artist has multiple tunes from the album to choose from if he's going for rowdy. He seems to have a thing for women with a wild side, as evident from raucous songs including "She Cranks My Tractor" and "Wild in Your Smile." And "Dancing in the Headlights," "Unwind It" and "Name on It" are perfect tracks for letting loose and leaving stress behind.
Lynch's live shows are comparable to his album in their level of enthusiasm.
"I love having an energetic show, maybe because I idolize Garth Brooks and that energy that he brings to the stage," he says.
And although they might not realize it, the audiences at Lynch's shows are in the driver's seat -- an element the entertainer seems to fully enjoy.
"The energy from the crowd directs where the show goes, so each night we get a different show which is fun for us as a band and me as a performer and also for the crowd," he explains. "They're not getting the same show every time. It's a big party when we're up there."
Growing up idolizing Brooks, Alan Jackson and Clint Black, Lynch doesn't recall the age when he realized he wanted to be a country singer. The 26-year-old simply says, "It's something I've always known that I wanted to do. It's gone on for that long."
While still a teenager, he moved to Music City and began honing his songwriting skills. Upon renting an apartment behind the acclaimed Bluebird Café, he began to watch and learn from some of Nashville's finest.
"The Bluebird Café was my landing spot when I got to Nashville," he says. "It was home. I didn't know a person when I moved up here at 18 and wanted to chase this dream. I knew that I wanted to write songs and sing, and the Bluebird is a world-famous songwriter hang. And so to be a better songwriter, that's where I'd go."
He says he would watch songwriters in action, then go home and "practice what they preached that night."
Because of his age at the time, Lynch needed a back-up plan when it came to supporting himself.
"I wasn't even old enough to get into a bar to play music, first off," he says. "So there was no way I was making a living doing that."
While Lynch continued refining his songwriting and learning the tricks of the trade, he held various jobs to make ends meet.
"I cut grass for a couple of years," he reveals. "I realized that wasn't the ideal job for a singer that had to sing a four-hour set afterwards because I was blowing grass all over the front row from breathing in all day."
After leaving lawn care behind, Lynch took another job testing sewage runoff for an environmental lab in Nashville.
"It was a pretty crappy job -- big pun intended," he says with a smile.
Lynch values his past professions and says he gained a "taste of real-life America" while doing them. And working for the environmental lab turned in to a positive because it gave him the "kick in the butt I needed to get my music into gear."
"To wake up and work an eight to 10-hour day and then go down and sing a four-hour shift on Broadway and get up and do it all again the next day ... it's a long day, but it's what I needed to make it now.
"These are long days still," Lynch admits, "but they're a lot of fun."