I think that one country performer who doesn’t get as much respect as he deserves is Luke Bryan. OK. That might shock you, given my tendency to roll toward the more traditional sounds, but while he has given us plenty of “Bro-Country” moments on songs like “Country Girl (Shake It For Me),” he has also turned in singles that touch on emotional spots like “Do I,” “Someone Calling You Baby,” and the powerful “Drink A Beer.”
For his fifth studio album, the singer releases a disc that just might surprise a few of you. Sure, there’s tracks like the chart-topping first single “Kick The Dust Up,” “Move,” and “Way Way Back” that will no doubt play up to his core audience. But, most of Kill The Lights represents a beginning of a shift toward a new sound for the Georgia native.
Bryan takes a few musical diversions on this album – maybe more than he’s ever done before. Take, for instance, the title cut. Upon first listen, you might think he is returning to his normal sound, but there’s a little more oomph (if that’s even a word) – somewhat of a more bulkier sound than what you might be used to from the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year.
At times, Kill The Lights features a little bit more of a soulful groove. On tracks like “Strip It Down” and “Razor Blade,” he definitely settles into this groove in a fine manner. You can even hear traces of that on the pop-laden “Home Alone Tonight,” a collaboration with Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild.
And, the disc gets better as it rolls along. “Fast” and “Just Over” are a little musically adventurous, with the former featuring some very reflective lyrics from a man who has definitely lived through a lot of highs and lows. “Love It Gone” is a nod to 90s country, and “Huntin’, Fishin’, and Lovin’ Every Day” gives Bryan a chance to showcase his Randy Owen influence more than just a little. It sounds like something that the boys from Fort Payne would have recorded themselves in 1982 – especially with those guitar licks!
And, he closes the album out with two of his strongest tracks ever. NSAI Hall of Famer Tom Douglas’s Midas touch can be heard on the stunning “To The Moon and Back,” and Shane McAnally shows why he is so highly regarded with his contribution to “Scarecrows.”
With Kill The Lights, Bryan sounds like a man who is no doubt proud of his past successes – but is looking for more. It’s going to be interesting to see where that search takes him, but this album is going to satisfy his fans in the meantime, and maybe make him a few new ones in the process!
1. Kick the Dust Up – Tim Castello/Chris DeStefano/Ashley Gorley
2. Kill the Lights – Luke Bryan/Jody Stevens/Jeff Stevens
3. Strip it Down – Bryan/Jon Nite/Ross Copperman
4. Home Alone Tonight (feat. Karen Fairchild) – Jody Stevens/Cole Taylor/Jaida Dreyer/Tommy Cecil
5. Razon Blade – Jeff Hyde/Tom Walker/Ryan Tyndell/Rodney Clawson
6. Fast – Bryan/Clawson/Luke Laird
7. Move – Castello/Michael Carter/Jay Clementi
8. Just Over – Chase McGill/Brad Tursi/Jessie Jo Dillon
9. Love it Gone – Jody Stevens/Clementi
10. Way Way Back – Bryan/Gorley/Clawson
11. To the Moon and Back – Tom Douglas/Hillary Lindsey/Tony Lane
12. Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day – Bryan Davidson/Rhett Akins/Ben Hayslip
13. Scarecrows – Gorley/Trevor Rosen/Shane McAnally