It took a long time for Scotty McCreery to get to his third record, Seasons Change.
Five years to be precise, a half-decade that saw the American Idol finalist undergo some major life changes, chief among them a departure from his post-Idol record label Mercury Nashville.
The imprint dropped him following "Southern Belle" -- a 2015 single that didn't crack the Top 40 -- and he resurfaced in 2018 on Triple Tigers with Seasons Change, a record whose very title acknowledges that he's no longer the eager, bright-eyed kid he was at the dawn of the decade.
The change isn't just superficial.
For the first time, McCreery co-writes every one of the songs on an album, teaming with a host of professional Nashville songwriters, including Jessi Alexander, who co-wrote Lee Brice's tear-jerker "I Drive Your Truck" and David Lee Murphy, who had a hit back in 1994 with "Dust on the Bottle." Many other writers are involved on Seasons Change, but those two indicate the tenor and tone of the album: It's an album whose heart belongs in a different era, one that feels much older than McCreery's 24 years.
Despite a few surface affectations, such as the faintest hint of a drum loop on the ballad "This Is It," the retro-soul groove of "Barefootin'," and a feint toward hip-hop cadence on "Move It on Out," there's nary a trace of the R&B influence that's so fashionable in the late 2010s, nor is there anything resembling the bro-country of the early 2010s.
This is an album firmly and proudly rooted in the tuneful mainstream country of the '90s.
Frankly, this is a good fit for McCreery.
A singer who always sounded a fair bit older than his years, he feels comfortable with the throwback sensibility of Seasons Change, as if he's finally found a home.
There's a charm to his light touch, but that wouldn't be enough to make Seasons Change as ingratiating as it is.
When combined with the singer's ease, these elements turn Seasons Change into McCreery's best album yet.