Let’s have a listen to Kane Brown’s latest album…
Latest? How many does he have?! Oh, two. And two EPs. Since 2015. He likes to keep busy.
Found Experiment, released on RCA Nashville this month, on my Amazon, hit the triangle button. Good heavens. I did not expect that voice and sound.
Shall we start with the first, and baritone-led, track, Baby, Come Back To Me? We shall.
Kick drum, polished production, banjo, heartbreak; this is good 21st century cross-genre music. And the song’s story? Could be a reworking of Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town, with lyrics like, ‘Don’t go goin’ downtown/Don’t go turnin’ heads/Just think about the good times/And everything we had….Baby come back to me.’
I’m hearing proper good country, aren’t you? Yeah, yeah, we all have our definition of proper country. For Kane, it’s an R&B and country fusion. And it fits very well.
Track two, Good as You, sounds so different again (less baritone-y) and charts his recent wedding day feelings to Katelyn Jae. Check out the sweet Vevo video.
But track three made me hit the download button; I lost it on Lose It. I was definitely ‘dancing, swaying to the music.’ The kick drum, banjo and big voice are back. There is a Florida Georgia Line vibe, (and sure enough he opened for them in 2016) with Thomas Rhett-like success on the way.
So, who is Kane Brown?
Hailing from Georgia and Tennessee, he became pals with classmate Lauren Alaina, who features on Kane’s platinum-certified What Ifs single, also released in 2016. Which only feels like five minutes ago, but an awful lot has happened in music since then for Kane, including multiple simultaneous number ones and award wins, and all on the back of a crowd funding/social media start in 2015; seven million people watched his cover of George Strait’s Check Yes or No. It’s about to be one more when I place my inaugural viewing of one of my favourite 90s tracks.
Back to Experiment; the cheeky Short Skirt Weather, with its piano-based honky-tonk homage, could have been sung by any of the 90s lads, especially McGraw, Chesney or Paisley. And it isn’t as offensive as you think it could be, as it’s clearly affectionate towards the lass. ‘Can you blame her? It’s a hundred degrees’.
Brown displays smooth lyrical R&B delivery throughout the album, but especially on Weekend and One Night Only, where he realises the worth of a relationship; the excitement of the last half an hour in work on a Friday in the former, and knowing forever on first sight in the latter, ‘I wanna be your Fridays, baby/And your Tuesdays too’. The enigmatic production on these mostly romantic stories takes us into Thomas Rhett territory. But with clear Kane Brown directions.
Where I Come From, is as country as country is; ‘There’s a few more churches than there are bars/A hell of a lot more trucks than there are cars’, and it just begs for the volume to be turned up.
And then we have the gut-wrenching American Bad Dream, a potent reflection of our now, ‘Remember when ninth grade was about gettin’ laid/Skippin’ class tryin’ not to get caught?/Now you gotta take a test in a bulletproof vest/Scared to death that you might get shot.’ The refrain, ‘wake me up from this American bad dream’ is eerily hypnotic.
But we don’t need to abandon all hope, no matter what the headlines tell us. The next track, Live Forever, reminds us that all isn’t lost. We still have love, ‘Life was just breathin’ in and out/Like a movie with the sound turned down/It felt nothin’ like I feel right now.’ He may have swapped the banjo for a piano (yes!) and electric guitar, but the way Experiment has been presented and produced indicates that Brown knows what he’s doing. And he’s doing it very well.
Oh, and there’s the fun and up tempo Lost in the Middle of Nowhere to round off the successful musical experiment. Featuring rising star Becky G, the R&B flavoured song juxtaposes a lyrical country life, ‘Blue light shining, county riding/Not one bar on our phones’.
Time to hit the repeat button on my phone.
Brown has definite C2C potential, and certainly this album has enough polished tracks to be played at the after-after party.
Side note: As I edit this review, Experiment has hit the number one spot, and it’s not hard to see why. With over 100,000 sales already it’s probably also going to be RIAA platinum-certified soon.