Let’s get it out there and say that a person can be country without their music being country. Where one lives and the life they lead shouldn’t dictate the type of music that they like. I live in the suburbs, but I love country music (real country music, not this pop wannabe garbage that’s played on the radio non-stop). There may be nothing particularly “country” about my life itself, but there was a time when country music wasn’t about living in “the backwoods” and “driving down backroads and partying.” It was about real life, real stories, real hardships. And no, “real stories” does not include endless songs about partying on Friday nights. Just because you experienced it doesn’t mean a song needs to be written about it.
So, where does that place Luke Bryan’s new album?
Well, right off the bat, he breaks the rule stated above and tries to pawn off pop music as country with a heavily overproduced pop song that would be more at home in a club on a Friday night than at a honky-tonk. Ironically, the song itself isn’t necessarily a poor message: it revolves around being proud of who you are and where you come from: every rule that Luke Bryan has pretty much broken. Remember his first album, even some of his second album? There was country music in there. Then he sold out and became the godfather of this bro-music and left anything to do with country music in the dust that he loves to party in.
I’m not quite sure what to make of “Out of Nowhere Girl.” It starts off with a bit of a different sound, but basically becomes another electronic club song. It sounds like the soundtrack to a movie where the guy has had a fight with her boyfriend, goes to a club, drinks heavily, and dances with some other guy while the camera shakily spins in a circle in the opposite direction of a bunch of bright lights.
“Light It Up” was the first song released from the album, so I already knew that this song was terrible, awful, and ninety-nine degrees of disturbing.
“Most People are Good” was the first time the album showed a hint of something more. Content-wise, this is actually a decent song that could have been improved if it had been a little less produced. I was actually surprised that this song came so early in the album: on “Kill the Lights,” the only halfway decent song was buried deep on the back half of the album. I’ll give Luke Bryan credit for the effort to reach for something better on this song and more or less succeeding.
“Land of a Million Songs” is a decent song about the power of music, for those hearing it, those writing it, and those performing it. It specifically speaks for those who both write and perform their own songs (and if Luke Bryan were a bit more active in writing, it’d be a bit more authentic, but still, it’s hard to not give Bryan credit for this song).
“Hooked On It” returns to the spectacularly bad and “She’s a Hot One” is even worse. “Hungover In a Hotel Room” feels like it wants to be Jason Aldean’s “Burnin’ It Down,” (which itself was just a terrible terrible song).
Most of the tracks I’ve skipped commenting on I’ve skipped because they are forgettable. Not spectacularly bad but far far from good, either. There are a couple of moments of light on this album, and it’s only fair that those are noted. Don’t put the effort into listening through the whole album for them, though. Download “Most People are Good” and “Land of a Million Songs,” and skip the rest.