Growing up in Kernersville, North Carolina, Chris Lane listened to all of the requisite country music staples: Alan Jackson, George Strait, KennyChesney and Garth Brooks. But as a child of the Nineties, he was also shaped by the smooth pop and R&B sounds of artists like Justin Timberlake, Usher and the Backstreet Boys. Now, as he prepares to release his anticipated debut EP for Big Loud Records, Lane has drawn upon those influences to create music for the modern country fan.
He also learned something about himself in the process: he's a damn fine falsetto singer. Working with über-producer Joey Moi, Lane was putting the finishing touches on a half-dozen songs in the studio when he absentmindedly began singing in the upper reaches of his register. Moi spun around in his chair.
"Joey said, 'What was that you just did? That was incredible,'" Lane recalls of his and Moi's eureka moment, which prompted them to go in search of songs that highlighted Lane's falsetto. "I sang this style my whole life, but we just didn't have the material to showcase it. Now the falsetto has become my sound and I hope it separates me from what other artists are doing."
His new single "Fix" showcases that impressively natural singing style. Written by Sarah Buxton, Jesse Frasure and Abe Stoklasa, the song is a vibrant jam, about finding that one person who gives you exactly what you need. Lane delivers it with a southern voice and a sophisticated touch, announcing the arrival of a new brand of country star — one with a keen ear for what fans are listening to today.
"The average country fan grew up the same way I did. And guys like Thomas Rhett, Sam Hunt and Florida Georgia Line did too: listening to all different kinds of music, especially dance and pop," Lane says. "The songs on my EP build on that and lend themselves to making people want to move."
Along with "Fix," other standouts include the romantic escape "For Her," the heartbreaking "Drinkin' Games," which Lane co-wrote, and the simply titled "Cool," which cleverly mines old-school nostalgia. The magnificent "Stolen Car," however — with its infectious "had to have you" refrain — is Lane at his all-out best. It's a song that Buxton (Keith Urban's "Stupid Boy," Florida Georgia Line's "Sun Daze") wrote especially for the versatile vocalist and calls to mind the pop finesse of Timberlake and the musical savvy of Keith Urban.
"I am such a huge fan of his," says Lane of the singer-guitarist. It was after witnessing Urban in concert, in fact, that Lane was inspired to learn the guitar and become an entertainer. "If you want to be the best of the best, you look to Keith Urban."
With more than 500 shows to his credit in just a few short years, Lane has shared the stage with Florida Georgia Line, Jerrod Niemann, Brett Eldredge and Thomas Rhett, and will join Dustin Lynch's 35-plus cities Hell of a Night Tour this fall.
Still, Lane is very much his own artist — and one savvy enough to truly put his audience first. "When I'm writing, recording and making music, I'm doing it with them in mind," he says of his connection to the crowd. "I feel like I am the fans."