Dustin Lynch has had himself a hell of a career thus far. Over ten years ago he broke out into the country music scene with his debut single, “Cowboys and Angels” reaching top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2012, and achieving Platinum status in the U.S. It was an impressive debut for a man who, merely five years prior graduated from Lipscomb University with a B.S. in biology, and damn near elected to head to med school. Luckily for the rest of us, he chose to pursue music.

The results since then have been mightily impressive: multiple top 10 albums, even more Gold and Platinum certified singles, and fans worldwide who’ve sold out his shows for over a decade now. When Lynch and I talk via zoom early last month, he had just gotten back from Luke Bryan’s annual Crash My Playa event in Cancun, his seventh year there. It’s a festival he describes as a “wonderful setting” for country music, where he himself was able to catch a lot of great acts and perform some sets of his own.

For someone who has achieved such success in music, you may think, what do you do to challenge yourself? Naturally get your pilot’s license, of course. At least that’s what Lynch spent the last few years or so working on, culminating in successfully getting his license in December of 2022. It was something that first came up while he was on a hunting trip with a buddy of his who’s a pilot, and a slow day lead them to discussing whether it would be a good fit for Lynch. “He goes, ‘Man you should really try it. I really think it’s something that would add some precious time back into your schedule,'” Lynch tells me about how the idea really came together. He brushed off for as long as he could, partly due to his schedule and candidly he admits partly due to being a little scared. “It’s a scary thing to try something new, you don’t know if you’re going to like it or be good at it, or fail at it.”

However, things really started moving in the right direction when his friend forced his hand. “He has a handful of airplanes, and he goes ‘Man I’m at least making you give it a shot, I’m sending you one of my airplanes and you can learn in it.’ That made my excuses go away fairly quickly,” Lynch recalls. “I obviously could have been like, ‘Hey man this isn’t for me’ and sent it back. But I didn’t want to let my buddies down. From my first flight ever, I realized it was an adventure I was looking forward to being a part of and Im definitely enjoying it.”

We were chatting right around the one year anniversary of Lynch’s latest album, Blue in the Sky, which was released back on February 11th of 2022. I bring up the anniversary to him, and he describes it as “surprising” to hear, albeit not necessarily in the way you may be expecting. “It feels to me like it’s been longer than just a year, I’m actually shocked,” he says, before ultimately saying that part of the reason is because they’ve been working on new music already. “I’ve had a lot of inspiration in the last year, and I’ve found some success writing and I’ve got a handful of songs I’m really excited about so we’re gonna continue on with the creative process and keep recording throughout the spring and hopefully have some more music out this year,” he finishes — for now.

While we eventually circle back to the idea of new music, I wanted to spend some time giving love to Blue In the Sky, as it’s truly some of Lynch’s best work to date. Songs like “Tequila on a Boat,” “Summer Never Ended,” and of course the single “Party Mode” highlight a side of Lynch that he was happy to be able to bring to life in his music. “Whenever I released the album, why I called it Blue in the Sky, it just felt like I was in a happy place” he begins. He explains that it doesn’t mean he was unhappy or unsatisfied before, because his live shows have always been a big party and happy feeling, but that Blue In the Sky is the first overall happy record he’s put out. “I feel like I’m enjoying life and doing something right, and it seems like that energy spilled over into our show and the ‘Party Mode Tour.’ That’s exactly what it sounds like, it’s a big party when we come to town,” he says.

Blue in the Sky also produced arguably Lynch’s biggest single to date, “Thinking ‘Bout You.” Originally released with Lauren Alaina on his 2020 album Tullahoma, the song was re-recorded with Mackenzie Porter for Blue in the Sky so it could be released as a single. Lynch tells me this was due to how much he and his team believed in “Thinking ‘Bout You” and it’s ability to be a single. “I worked for over a couple years to make that song happen and had so many obstacles in the way. Hurdles, hoops we had to jump through to get that song out and about,” he recalls.

“It proved itself and I think it solidifies — my producer and I were talking a couple days ago working in the studio, it solidifies that when we are really passionate about something in our gut, to trust that,” Lynch continues. It’s one of those songs that he says you don’t expect to have happen every time, to take off the way it did on the charts and resonate with fans all over. It broke records on country radio and is his highest charting single on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100. “A lot of my heroes have like — there’s hit songs and then there’s career changing hit songs,” he begins. “I think we could chalk ‘Thinking ‘Bout You’ up in the career changing songs column”.

While overall Blue In the Sky may be a happy record, it’s not without it’s bumps in the road and songs that relate to more harder times. “Break It on a Beach,” for example, is a song about getting your heartbroken on a beach and always thinking of that every time you step foot on a beach. “Party Mode,” the album’s second single, is another song that touches on break-ups and the after effects. However, much like “Break It on a Beach,” Lynch masks this lyrical content with an upbeat chorus that has you singing along as if nothing is wrong.  “Party Mode,” specifically, Lynch says was really just about where he was in his life when writing for Blue In the Sky. “I had just gone through a break up,” he begins to explain. “That song came to my life at the perfect time. Not far from where I’m sitting now, we were sitting in an uber — me and my buddies — going down to downtown Nashville just to be dudes, man, and have fun, make some memories, and listen to live music.”

While there was, naturally a moment of panic and sadness as there always is following a breakup, Lynch decided with his friends that he wanted to flip the way he was viewing the breakup. In “Party Mode,” there’s a line that goes “I sure do miss her and what we had / But there ain’t no future in looking back” and that’s sort of the mindset he developed shortly thereafter. “After a breakup, you’ve got those butterflies, kind of that gut punch. That was a moment where I realized this is exciting, cause we’ve got a new chapter we get to write as far as personal life goes. I don’t know where that’s going to lead, I have no intentions to force anything. But there’’s something promising and uplifting about that, even though you are going out and trying to get over somebody,” he summarizes.

Lynch’s current single from Blue In the Sky “Stars Like Confetti” was the second most added single to country radio when it got it’s official release, and continues to make it’s way up the charts as I write this. It’s one of those feel good songs from the album, and was co-written by Thomas Rett, Zach Crowell, and Josh Thompson. Lynch goes on to recall the first time he was sent a demo of the song to check out, “I heard that song for the first time with friends on my boat in the lake, and we listen to a lot of new demos whenever we’re out there doing life on the water. For whatever reason, everybody wanted to hear ‘Stars Like Confetti’ again later that afternoon, which is a great sign.”

“Stars Like Confetti” was interestingly enough almost the second single released from Blue In the Sky, before giving way to “Party Mode” — but they didn’t want to shelve it completely, of course. So while it had to wait it’s turn, perhaps it was for the best. “Really, to me, [“Stars Like Confetti”] is — it kind of captures what country music shows, festivals, and fairs allow. It allows an arena for people to get together, brings people that don’t know each other together. And man from first hand experience, love stories begin at country concerts,” Lynch recalls. Now, as we start to leave winter behind and enter spring then summer with warmer weather, that allows room for “Stars Like Confetti” to continue to take off. “It’s going to be a wonderful song to have out as we start getting out of these nasty, winter days and move into those warmer days. It’s really going to shine this summer, I’m excited for it.”

All of that being said though, there is that little bit that Lynch let slip earlier in our conversation: new music. New music was originally first teased back in September of 2022 when he released the standalone single “Wood on the Fire.” Going into our interview, I was prepared to ask if this was a tease of more new stuff to come, but during our time together he mentioned that this single was actually originally cut for Blue In the Sky. “But I realized [that] ‘Wood on the Fire’ deserves it’s own spotlight,” Lynch recalls, explaining how his fans gobble up music quickly and then are calling for more, so they decided to hide a few back like “Wood on the Fire” for that purpose.

“Wood on the Fire” is a little more somber, lyrically and musically — which makes sense given the aforementioned break-up Lynch had gone through during the writing period for Blue In the Sky. “Wood on the Fire” itself was actually, as he tells it, written a few days before he broke off that relationship. “I was writing from a very honest, vulnerable position, already with butterflies in my stomach because I knew what was coming in the next day or two. So that’s a song that I guess was kind of foreshadowing what break ups are, ” he recants. Being able to take a song out of a crappy situation doesn’t necessarily make it easier to go through, but at the very least, honing in on that pain and honesty allowed for something positive to come out of the impending break-up. “Songs are all about grabbing the magical emotion out of the air and putting it down in lyric and melody. ‘Wood on the Fire’ is 100% that,” Lynch says.

Taking one look at Dustin Lynch’s upcoming tour dates, including opening for Kane Brown on his lengthy spring tour and then a jam-packed summer, it’s fair to wonder when he will carve out time to be able to record and put together new music. “I don’t know,” Lynch says with a laugh when I bring this dilemma up. He acknowledges his busy schedule with touring and traveling in there, but feels like he has gotten pretty good at operating under pressure as it focuses him to focus more on the album and what it s going to mean. “We may be wrong but I feel like we have a great start. There’s a lot of pressure, in my opinion, that’s off because I think I have some songs that I would be happy singing for the rest of my life already recorded,” Lynch says.

Somehow, someway Lynch has plans to chip away at the next album this spring, having laid some groundwork down back in December he says. The timetable is fluid and certainly subject to change, but for now, the aim is to wrap up work at the beginning of summer. In the meantime, Blue In the Sky has held up tremendously well in the last year, much as the rest of Lynch’s discography as well.

If the last decade plus of his career has taught us anything, it’s that new music from Lynch will be well worth the wait — and we might not even have to wait as long as usual this time around.