Friday, 30 August 2013

Album Review: CRASH MY PARTY

Almost overnight, Luke Bryan has become the hottest male artist in country music. A remarkable feat, considering he put out his debut release I'll Stay Me barely six years ago. And while Bryan's hit songs have already become classics, he's actually only landed five number ones on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, the most recent in its second week on top.

It's hard to nail down what makes his voice so appealing. Perhaps it's the versatility – Bryan can pull off a tear-jerker with flawless tone in Drink a Beer, but evoke emotion just as well with rap-style songs.

I had high expectations of Crash My Party, and Bryan didn't disappoint. That's My Kind of Night is by far the best tune, with great crossover potential. And while the extravagant pop effects mixed in with lines about "catfish dinner" might make traditionalists cringe, Bryan seems to dig the combo. And it works. "A little Conway, a little T-Pain/Just might make it rain."

Bryan stacks the first half of the album with upbeat, radio-friendly songs like Beer In the Headlights and Roller Coaster. He really rocks out the former, with the fast-paced verses again nearly qualifying as rap. We Run This Town has a great steel guitar line, and reflects on good times from high school like career accomplishments. "We'd drive to fast/We'd get to loud/We thought we made the world go round."

I See You is a semi-dark rocker in which Bryan laments the inability to forget an ex. "I can't go anywhere/I can't do anything/No, I can't close my eyes without you in my dreams." While this album as a whole feels less organic than Tailgates & Tanlines, I don't mind the genre swing. Crash My Party is basically an extension of Country Girl (Shake It for Me) with stronger instrumental backings.

Another notable track is Play It Again, a cute power-ballad marvelling the emotional power of music. However, there are a few songs that don't quite measure up, including Blood Brothers and Shut It Down.

Thematically, this album doesn't vary much from Bryan's previous work. But, he manages to cover young love, loyalty, and redneck tendencies with a new, raw sound. I'd say the risk paid off. While I still love his old style, Crash My Party is more likely to appeal to young listeners who enjoy a variety of contemporary genres. Bryan's momentum isn't going to slow anytime soon.

Country Luke's Rating: 8.5/10

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