Luke Bryan: Tailgates & Tanlines

Written by August 9th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Luke Bryan
Tailgates & Tanlines
(Capitol Nashville)
Rating: ★★★★☆

Luke Bryan has been going full steam ahead since he burst onto the country music scene in 2007 with his debut hit “All My Friends Say.” With six Top 10 hits (three of which were No. 1 singles), and two hit albums under his belt, Bryan delivers his third album Tailgates & Tanlines, which solidifies his place among the best of today’s country male vocalists.

Bryan co-wrote eight of the thirteen new tracks with some of Nashville’s most celebrated heavy-hitters (Rhett Akins, Josh Kear, Dallas Davidson), including the hit “Country Girl (Shake It For Me),” which has saturated airwaves, becoming Bryan’s fastest-rising single to date. The lead-off track, which surely everyone has heard by now, has prompted country girls to shake it collectively over the long, hot summer.

Bryan’s voice is in peak form and has never sounded better than on the mid-tempo “I Know You’re Gonna Be There,” which is about plucking up the courage to face an ex-lover. “I’m gonna put on my new shirt, shine up these old boots/Take a deep breath, try to keep my cool,” the Georgia native confesses in his endearing and distinctive southern drawl.

“All we do right is make love/And we both know now that ain’t enough,” Bryan sings on the upbeat “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” Written by Bryan with Shane McAnally and album producer Jeff Stevens, this country rocker is a real knockout that sounds ready to burst onto the airwaves and race up the charts.

Tailgates & Tanlines is, for the most part, exactly what the title implies: a soundtrack for fun and sun, along with an instantaneous cure for the summertime blues. However, it’s the moments when Bryan digs deeper, such as on Radney Foster’s emotionally-charged “I Knew You That Way” and the somber “You Don’t Know Jack,” warning against the dangers of alcohol abuse, when he really shines. These brief instants trump the fluffier material and hint at the kind of greatness Bryan is capable of delivering on future albums.

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