American Young. It’s more than a name. It’s a movement. A passion for music and more importantly it’s meaning. As artists, songsmiths, producers, and entertainers, Jon Stone and Kristy Osmunson define American Young this way. They are seasoned veterans on how music can inherently affect emotion and even culture. The collaborative fresh new duo already claim songwriting credits for hit makers Kenny Chesney, Lee Brice, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton and more. Recording and writing comes from a deep, poignant place with a desire to affect global audiences with songs featuring tight harmonies and storytelling. “American Young represents a sound with no boundaries. We are squarely focused on delivering our own brand of music and hope that folks will find our songs everything from haunting to dramatic and intense”, says Jon.
Jon Stone and Kristy Osmunson may seem familiar to you. They’ve both been in Nashville and have explored their options in country music before. Jon as a solo act, then a successful producer and songwriter (“Me and My Gang,” “A Woman Like You”) and Kristy as a founding member and sizzling fiddle player of the duo Bomshel.
But what isn’t familiar is their music. That’s because no one—NO ONE—is making music like this.
Yes, it is absolutely country with its often picturesque, usually compelling, sometimes downright gripping lyrics. Absolutely country with arrangements and instrumentation that brings those lyrics and effortless vocals so far forward they reach past your auditory and right into your heart, right into your soul, right into your gut. From the easy, almost hushed jangly plea of “Love Is War,” to the driving, fiddle-laden anger of “Wasn’t Gonna Drink Tonight,” American Young isn’t content with their audience being passive listeners to their music. They want them to feel it in their soul. That’s the sign of two artists so impassioned, so eaten up with making music that they can’t help but do it.
Of course, Jon wouldn’t readily admit that at first. “My life was going so well and I was peaceful….and then she came up to me.” Kristy asked, “’What are you doing with the artist thing?’ And I was like, ‘It’s always been the dream, but I’m so busy producing and writing songs. I’ve always had a passion for entertaining an audience, but I was at a point where I questioned whether it was apart of God’s plan for me, and I felt like I had no choice, but to be at peace with that or it was going to wreck my life.” At peace until Kristy’s genuine interest and persistence gave him pause to reconsider and then try again.
It only took one time of casually playing together for the pair to feel the evident chemistry and realize they were embarking on something very special. And that they had a sound so singularly unique that it is the stuff that musical trends are born from. Still, Jon turned to producer Paul Worley (Lady Antebellum). “We recorded some guitar vocals, and I called Paul Worley and I said, ‘I’ve got to play you something,’” remembers Jon. “I played him these songs and I said, ‘I have to do this, don’t I?’ And he said, ‘You have to do this. You have to do this.’”
It turns out that Kristy and Jon were exactly what each other needed. “I’ve waited my whole life to find someone I could play with like that,” smiles Kristy. “‘Cause that’s really all we do. The stage is our sandbox and we bring different toys and make things.” The admiration is mutual. “I realized today that if she hadn’t found me, I would have never gotten to live my dream of being a singer, says Jon. “And if I hadn’t found her, she would have never realized and found who she is.”
That’s how one of freshest new acts on the country music scene is born.
Tapping the vocal ability of both Jon and Kristy—a talent she wasn’t aware she even had—has revealed an earthy, organic and authentic sound that has developed naturally and effortlessly. The relationship between the two is very yin and yang. Jon—the consummate, meticulous producer, focused on perfect tones and notes. Kristy — the high-energy performer with an eye on an entertaining, fun live show. The combination means that when the dynamic duo hit the stage, not only is the show technically sound, it’s a feast for the musical soul…but sometimes that requires Kristy to level out the perfectionist in Jon. “I just whack him with my bow every now and then, and he starts having fun,” she laughs. “Where he is the studio Oz back there wizarding the whole thing, it’s not the part I’ve ever focused on. I’ve always been a player, so my focus has always been on making a show that is just going to be epic and amazing.” “And that’s never been my focus ever, not one time,” laughs Jon. “When I saw some footage of me performing on stage…I need to work on having fun. ”
Surprisingly, with the accomplished songwriters that both Jon and Kristy are, their debut single, “Love Is War,” is an outside cut. Penned by the prolific combination of Jonathan Singleton, Kylie Sackley and Billy Montana, the tune showcases surprisingly sparse production considering Jon’s affinity for perfection. The arrangement is loose, almost acoustic, and the vocals are raw and full of emotion allowing the simple, yet complex lyric to rise to the top of the listening experience.
“It completely defines who we are from the first note of the song,” says Jon. “It’s a great introduction to American Young for so many reasons, but for one, Kristy and I are singing every note of the song together. We’re playing on the record. It’s an amazing song, such a well-written song, and we totally believe it and it sounds like it. I can tell when she sings the song that she believes it, and I guarantee she says the same thing about me. Every time we sing it, it’s just…oh wow. I realize that this is going to be the most important thing I ever do in my whole life.”
Kristy adds, “This is going to be one of those music concepts that is a pivotal project. It has the power to motivate change. It has the power to inspire a different way of thought. This song does that and more. The song says exactly what we all do in relationships. We simply give up. We stop learning how to talk to each other. We stay angry, and that’s not what we need to do. We need to learn. We need to fight for love.”
So, how is this time different? How is American Young different for Jon Stone and Kristy Osmunson? “I think that somebody has to fail enough to not be afraid of success. Frankly, we’ve failed so much that success would be such a by-product of just doing something that we loved,” laughs Jon.