Artist: Brantley Gilbert
Album: Just As I Am
When it comes to Country, any one who knows me will know that I prefer the good ol’ days. I grew up on Conway Twitty, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, George Strait and musicians of that nature. For 15 years, I was subjected to just about nothing but Country, which I admittedly despised for quite awhile. A few years ago, I began listening to Country again, to get a feel of what it’s become. For the most part, it’s pretty much the same themes, the same vibe and the same boring old sound. However, every now and then, there will be an artist who will catch my ear. Brantley Gilbert has always struck a chord with me because he heavily influences his music with rock, making it have a country air, but not necessarily that full-on country sound. Each album this man has put out has been better than the last. His 3rd full-length, Just As I Am, is one of my favorite releases of this year and I’m proud to say so.
The lead single, “Bottoms Up” is your typical drinking/party song but it breathes new life, new elements and a new flavor not previously successfully explored in the genre. While it’s not necessarily the most eye-popping track on the album, it definitely does it’s job as a lead single. The coolest part is that he throws a little bit of a hip-hop influence in there in parts of this track, really making it pop more than it might have if this element wasn’t added.
Make no mistake about it, this album is all killer, no filler from the beginning. The opening track, “If You Want A Bad Boy” is one of the tracks that proves he has such a strong female following. Gilbert proclaims, “If you want a bad boy, baby, you got him. I got a bad toy sittin’ in the parkin’ lot” speaking of his infamous chopper he’s been seen in many promo photos with. If you want an even further example of why he sports the bad boy persona so fittingly, take the track “That Was Us” as a shining example. There aren’t many country artists that can get away with slipping a few curse words in their music, but Brantley does it with such class, such sophistication that one won’t even mind. I was joking with a few of my friends about this fact, it just goes to show you that just because you’re a bad-boy doesn’t mean that you should be looked down upon. After all, he has quite the following (nearly 3 million grace the BG Nation title).
Of course, he has a softer side as well. This being most evident in tracks like “I’m Gone” and”17 Again”, in which he reminisces about his love life with a high school sweetheart. But this track has a little bit of something for everyone, including a guest spot from his labelmates Thomas Rhett and Justin Moore (see: “Small Town Throwdown”).
Whether you’re in for a good party anthem, traditional country song, something more on the cross-over side or want to reminisce about the good ol’ days, Just As I Am has you covered on all fronts. It’s not often that a country album makes honorable mention for an album of the month here, let alone album of the year. However, this album will definitely stake claim to one, if not both, of these titles. So be sure to pick up Just As I Am out now on Big Machine Records/Valory Co. and discover what could go down as the best Country album of the year!