Alexander Ludwig: ‘Highway 99’ – Album Review

Alexander Ludwig’s brand new, debut album, Highway 99 is out now, August 26th on all streaming platforms. Take a listen and read our full review below.

With a shockingly country drawl and an airy approach to country music that channels the best of the early-2000’s, Canadian actor-turned-country-singer Alexander Ludwig’s debut album, Highway 99, is out now. Released by BBR Music Group/ BMG Nashville, the full-length is a follow up to 2021’s self-titled EP, which featured songs like “Sunset Town,” “Love Today,” and “Summer Crazy.”

While he may be best known for roles in Vikings, Heels, and The Hunger Games, Ludwig always had country music in his blood, growing up on the likes of Alan Jackson and George Strait. He began writing songs at 12, falling in love with country music on long drives with his family. “I named my album ‘Highway 99’ because that drive is really where I got my musical education,” shared the singer, reminiscing about road trips from Vancouver to Whistler Mountain. “So much of my musical education growing up was driving through the mountains in Canada. […] When I think of this album, it wasn’t so much a story from start to finish, like a concise story, it’s this winding road of feelings that I wanted to communicate.”

Produced by Jason Aldean’s bandmates, Kurt Allison and Tully Kennedy, Highway 99, is definitely a nod to the country Ludwig grew up on, meshing the best of Aldean, Chesney, and other influences into an album full of stadium-ready anthems, odes to small towns, and celebrations of life.

“Summer Crazy” is one of the album’s most apparent standouts, setting the perfect soundtrack for a day at the beach or a barbecue, and the Instagram caption that’s sure to follow. With driving guitars and a perfect hook, the track is as radio-ready as they come.

Likewise, “Love Today” shines as another clear highlight, Ludwig raising a lyrical glass to seize the day. “It’s good to be alive, kinda smile on my face, yeah it’s gonna be okay,” He sings over the infectious melody and catchy tune. “I love today.”

The album’s first single, “Faded on Me,” is a more rowdy up-tempo with an anthemic feel, yet semi-autobiographical for Ludwig. “If my album could be summed up in a song it would be ‘Faded On Me,’” said Ludwig in a statement. “The song spoke to me so much. As a kid, my parents taught me to roll with the punches, and this song is all about that.  Taking whatever life throws your way and throwing it right back.”

 “One more night in a neon town // And I pull my heart into one more, one more round // Burn both ends till they both burn out // Shots I’ve missed, girls I kissed // When the heartache hits I go till it’s faded on me // I go till it’s faded on me // Till it’s faded on me.”

Much of Highway 99 finds the singer-songwriter longing for the one that got away. This can be heard on tracks including “After You,” “Back,” “Can’t Outrun You,”  and “Melrose Avenue.” On “After You,” he admits that things will never be the same after someone special is gone, while “Back” also has him longing for those days when things were better.

“Can’t Outrun You” also finds the singer-songwriter desperately trying to escape a lost love who’s everywhere he goes and everywhere he looks. “Everything here reminds me…” He croons. “Every neon bar // That Texaco star // Every sundown water tower view // Rolling down that main street strip // Every parking lot kiss // Runs through my mind // No matter what I do // Every road, every mile I go // I can’t outrun you.”

While some tracks may allude to Ludwig being lovelorn, that couldn’t be further from the truth for the happily married superstar. One song reflecting that is “Malibu Blue,” which Ludwig says he played for his wife on their first date, so it will forever hold a special place in his heart.

Like any good country album, there are songs about small towns, back roads, and simpler life on Highway 99, including “Sunset Town,” “Rough Around the Edges,” and “That’s the Life I Want.” While the star could easily “go Hollywood,” he longs for a simple life out in the country with someone special. “Simple as a windows-down singalong song,” he muses. “As long as this life keeps on spinning // That’s the life I want // You’re the girl I want in it.”

The album concludes with “Let Me Be Your Whiskey,” a slow burner where Ludwig begs someone to help him numb the pain. In fact, he offers for them to self-medicate together on the sparse ballad of knowing something is wrong despite how right it may feel. 

“Let me be your whiskey //  You can be mine // Spend the whole night with me // Until the mornin’ light // Ain’t gonna heal the heartache // Ain’t gonna stop the rain // Let me be your whiskey // And for a while, kill the pain.”

Throughout Highway 99, one note is how similar Ludwig sounds to Kenny Chesney, in a good way. In fact, if there’s ever a Chesney biopic, Ludwig might have to shave his head and don a tanktop and a cowboy hat to play the country superstar.

Highway 99 is a great introduction for Alexander Ludwig to country music fans, as it melds common tropes with an early-2000’s flare and his own spin on summer nights, lost love, and the perfect life.

Alexander Ludwig – Highway 99 Track List:
(Digital Sequence)

  1. Sunset Town
  2. Faded On Me
  3. That’s The Life I Want
  4. Rough Around The Edges
  5. How It Rolls
  6. 201 Melrose Avenue
  7. That Kinda Love
  8. Back
  9. If You Don’t I Do
  10. Like She Wanted To
  11. Summer Crazy
  12. After You
  13. Malibu Blue
  14. Can’t Outrun You
  15. Love Today
  16. Let Me Be Your Whiskey

Country Swag Picks

  1. Faded on Me
  2. Summer Crazy
  3. Love Today
  4. Can’t Outrun You

Alexander Ludwig’s debut album, ‘Highway 99’ is out now.

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Highway 99 is available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released tunes on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.