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ALBUM REVIEW: Luke Bryan – ‘Born Here, Live Here, Die Here’



Luke Bryan is back on the album charts with his 7th studio album, ‘Born Here Live Here Die Here’, having already secured three #1 singles from the project, in true Luke Bryan domination mode. 

The one criticism Luke has always left himself wide open to over the last few years is the occasional lack of substance and depth for one of the more mature artists in the genre. One moment you’ll have classics like ‘Drink A Beer’, ‘Fast’ and ‘Most People Are Good’, the next you’ll have ‘Knockin’ Boots’ and ‘One Margarita’. There’s nothing wrong with a good country party track, of which Luke has many, but there’s nobody as good as Luke Bryan when he puts out one of his gems. There’s no better vocalist out there, and sometimes that goes to waste.

‘Born Here Live Here Die Here’, for the most part, is the album we’ve been crying out for from Luke for quite some time. Full of superbly written, traditional-leaning instant classics that suit Luke so well at this point in his life and career. His best album since ‘Tailgates and Tanlines’, it’s a great example of a high-profile artist choosing the absolute best songs at his disposal from the Nashville songwriting community, something which can’t always be said for artists of Luke’s calibre.

In particular, the second half of the album is quite simply brilliant. For anyone who’s lost a father, in one way or another, ‘Build Me A Daddy’ is a real heartbreaker, and epitomises what we all love and appreciate about country songwriting. Written from the perspective of a boy speaking to a carpenter, desperate for a fatherly figure in his life, there’s a gorgeous innocence yet immense depth to the song. Lyrically, right up there with Luke’s all time greats.

“Could you build me a Daddy? Strong as Superman…
Make him ten feet tall with a southern drawl, and a crooked smile if you can”

The very Midland-esque ‘Little Less Broken’ follows; a real throwback honky-tonk track for drowning those post-breakup sorrows. Just about as ‘country’ as it gets, and Luke’s signature southern drawl and impeccable delivery suits this song to perfection. From here, the album just seems to get better and better; it’s no exaggeration that there are 4 ‘song of the year’ contenders in quick succession on the back end of this collection.

Perhaps the strongest of those is ‘For A Boat’, which is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best recordings of Luke’s career. Reminiscent of Runaway June’s ‘We Were Rich’, it’s a stunner that looks back on a tough, cash-strapped upbringing with great pride, valuing the smaller things in life that meant so much, and the love between one another in a tight-knit family. One of those goosebump-inducing storylines with a beautiful, summery melodic vibe. Love it.

It would be great to see Luke release something like ‘For A Boat’ or the following track, ‘Where Are We Goin”, as a single, to really showcase what this album is all about. The radio choices so far, although fun party tracks, are the ‘throwaway’ tracks on the record, and there is so much more that this album has to offer. ‘Where Are We Goin” even features a string section in a wonderfully uplifting, acoustic melody. Yes, it’s the tried-and-tested ‘boy meets girl’ tale, but it’s a damn fine country tune that harks back to the old classics of the genre. 

Luke has legitimately put himself in contention for album of the year here at the awards ceremonies, not just for being Luke Bryan. Terrific song selection, including the superb title track ‘Born Here Live Here Die Here’ and ‘Too Drunk To Drive’ in the first half, which are also well worth a listen aside from the aforementioned tracks. This album feels like a defining moment in Luke’s career where he’s moved on to a new level of maturity, with one eye on his longevity. Keep doing more of this, Luke!

Dan Wharton

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