On the eve of his UK tour, Thomas Rhett has re-released his September 2015 album ‘Tangled Up’ with 5 new tracks, although it has to be said that two of those are not in the strictest sense ‘new’. He has re-recorded the two previous singles ‘Playing With Fire’ with Danielle Bradbury and ‘Die A Happy Man’ with Tori Kelly. It’s an interesting marketing ploy. The original ‘Tangled Up’ album was a healthy seller. It is approaching 475,000 sales in the US. This compares favourably with his peers. Blake Shelton’s album has similar sales despite the often-reported heavy discounting.
We can understand the desire to breathe new life into the original project but realistically will his fans consider buying the album again or will they download the new tracks. Probably the latter. For those that didn’t buy the album previously, it’s now become an enhanced purchase. We all know that ‘Die A Happy Man’ spent 6 weeks at the top of the charts and was nominated for single of the year by the CMA’s.
‘Crash and Burn’ was also certified platinum and went to number 2 in the country charts. No one can possibly question Rhett’s popularity or his ability to record songs that have hooks which are impossible to wriggle from. However, he doesn’t always get it right. He has become one of the poster boys for the traditionalists who single him out for services against country music.
This album contains two songs that they would use as ‘Exhibits A and B’ in a prosecution, ‘T-Shirt’ and ‘Vacation’. They might not be able to secure a conviction for the former. ‘T-Shirt’ was hugely popular, selling bucket loads and reaching number one on the US Country Airplay charts. However the jury surely wouldn’t take long to return a guilty verdict on ‘Vacation’. By Rhett’s standards it flopped badly.
Therein lies the conundrum with Thomas Rhett. ‘Vacation’ is the song that famously included the multi-song writing entries. 14 people are credited but Rhett correctly states that they gave credit to members of the seventies funk band War for the sample of ‘Low Rider’. As it was the lowest charting single of his career to date, it seems that most people were as uninspired as we were.
However, the album contains the stellar track ‘The Day You Stopped Lookin’ Back’, which is one of our tracks of the year.
The re-issue includes his latest single ‘Star Of The Show’ a song that Rhett wrote with Rhett Atkins and Ben Hayslip. Thankfully it is rather closer to the vibe given off by ‘Die A Happy Man’ than ‘Vacation’ which we will try not to refer to again! It deserves to restore Rhett to the peak of the US charts and is another tribute to his wife Lauren.
However, for us the pick of the 3 new songs has to be ‘American Spirit’. Rhett has recently said that he released the deluxe version as he was “bored” and wanted to showcase some new songs whilst gearing up for his new album. ‘American Spirit’ is a collaboration with hit machine Jaren Johnston of The Cadillac Three and Chris Destefano. It is surely destined to be an anthem at Rhett’s live shows. Thomas Rhett at his very best.
‘Background Music’ is Rhett at his quirky pop-country, I shouldn’t like this but I do, best. There is nothing in this song for country fans. Synthesised beats and enhanced electronic vocals. Bouncy beats that wouldn’t be wrong on a N’Sync song from years ago. You can just imagine Justin’s dance routines. But we defy you not to like it and that’s why Thomas Rhett will sell loads of albums and his records will be all over country radio. He simply has that elusive knack of creating something that people want to listen to.