Brantley Gilbert is not an artist that I’m massively familiar with. I’m listening to his latest album ‘The Devil Don’t Sleep’ with fresh ears and a totally open mind!
Coming in with ‘Rockin’ Chairs’, you get that guitar riff that takes your mind to a front porch at sunset, with your love and that ol’ hound, followed by a deep gruff that takes you in. A song with a real ‘live for today’ message, making memories to reminisce about when the wilder times in life are over.
The vocal a little reserved at first, just waiting to be unleashed. I hear Eric Church influences at times, but he’s pushing for a more whiskey soaked, dirty rasp. At the same time, an old school Chad Kroeger edginess comes through in ‘Bullet in a Bonfire’ with a ‘shit kickin’ grit and outlaw lyrics. Followed by some country-pop goodness in ‘Tried to Tell Ya’- the second I heard the first bar of this song, my head was taken straight to Chase Rice’s ‘Do It Like This’. The vibe I get is very mainstream and radio pleasing.
I’m a person that likes a country song to relate to my life. Like all of us, I l need to hear pain, love, a breaking heart and some good old ‘go to hell’!
This record has all of the above- but the thing that it lacks for me is the hard-hitting passion that grabs you from the start… it’s just missing that spark. For the most part, the album has a very ‘samey’ vibe, yet there are tracks that do stand alone.
‘In My Head’ is a catchy little tune and has an optimistic, hopeful sound. Describing the daze we are left in when we meet that person that we’ve been waiting for… then doubt sets in as it always does, but we take that risk anyway!
“You got me thinkin’ crazy, this ain’t me, I know where it ends
And this has got too good to be true written all over it
I’m takin’ this leap of faith, if I go down in flames
We made a memory that won’t go away
You’re in my head all in my head, baby’
It’s a song with lyrics that will resonate with anyone that listens to it- we’ve all been there!
But wait a minute! Hold the phone! Just when I think I could write this album off as an ‘ok to listen to in the background’ kind of album…. Brantley hits me right in the feels with ‘Three Feet of Water’. I’m a sucker for piano- and he went there! A gentle, melodic ballad with so much emotion. A truly beautiful song, that for me is about shedding light on all of the things we hold in our past, and believing that faith will guide us through and let us leave it behind. This is the kind of personal, real grit that I have been waiting for from him.
Tapping my toes and picking lyrics up as I’m listening, I’m not saying that this is a bad record and I don’t dislike it at all! It’s just, in my opinion, far too safe for what I think Brantley is capable of. That said, it does make me want to listen to his back catalogue and re-think my initial judgment.
On a whole, this record has that commercialized country-pop come bro-country sound, as most do now. I can hear in his lyrics, melodies and changing riffs, that he is going that distinctive outlaw sound, but for me he lacks the hell for leather delivery that it requires.