Luke Bryan - What Makes You Country Album Review
What Makes You Country is the sixth studio album from country mega-star Luke Bryan. It’s filled with stories, life lessons and your typical country night starter-pack. The two-time Country Music Awards “Entertainer of the Year” winner and new judge on American Idol shows that his career isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Bryan’s music has always been commercialized and What Makes You Country suggests no signs of breaking that. His last album, Kill The Lights, racked up six No. 1 hits and What Makes You Country could do even better.
It’s not a new sound for Bryan though. Over the span of his 10-year career, Bryan hasn’t really risked his music in any way. He’s always played it safe, giving fans the upbeat country-pop sound and a few love song ballads that country radio swallows up. There isn’t much emotional depth with the lyrics on any of the 15 songs on the new album. It’s typical Bryan singing about good-time-drinking, crazy-in-love, kind-hearted country or heartbreak from an ex-love who won’t text back. Which leads us to the first single released from the album “Light It Up.”
“Light It Up” is already No. 2 on the charts and will likely become a new No. 1 for him soon. The lyrics display a story of someone constantly waiting for their phone to “light up” from an ex-love. The production is slick electric guitar riffs mixed with drum machine beats and almost has a haunting sound that does grab listeners’ attention. But Bryan’s vocal performance does not make this song stand out much.
Known for being the driving force of “bro-country,” Bryan steps away from that image with the second released single “Most People Are Good.” The ballad shows what really matters the most to Bryan and that he has his head on straight. It’s the prime example of a country song; kind-hearted lyrics, strong acoustic guitar presence, middle-of-the-road tempo.
Luke Bryan sounds the most like himself on the track “Drinking Again.” The good time song is a page right out of Bryan’s party book, singing about honky-tonks and beer. Bryan heats things up with “Hungover in a Hotel Room,” a duet with Christian songwriter Emily Weisband. You find the two in a hotel room together with their clothes on the floor and they keep canceling their checkout to stay with each other longer.
The most sentimental moment on the album is “Pick It Up,” wherein a father sings to his children. Hoping that one day his sons will pick up a guitar and learn to play like him. The production gives you a toe-tapping melody that is sure to leave you feeling happy. “Like You Say You Do” takes a darker turn. Bryan details an affair his friend is having and how he could treat the girl better.
The title track is exactly what you’d expect a song with that title to be about: all the things that make you “country” in Bryan’s eyes. Beat-up cowboy boots, dirt-covered denim and going hunting make the list. Its production is twangy and catchy and sonically fits the tone of what Bryan was trying to capture on his latest project.
Overall, What Makes You Country is an enjoyable listen but doesn't have any career-altering moments for Bryan. He has mastered being a catchy, sing-along country superstar. All though What Makes You Country is typical Luke Bryan, fans have come to love it and it’s clearly working. The album is predicted to be No. 1 on Billboards 200 Chart this week.
Lauren Smith is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Lauren is an on-air personality for Penn State’s web-based CommRadio station. She is also a member of the CommRadio arts department writing music reviews. Lauren attended the Confer Radio Talent Institute in 2016 and was accepted to attend the National Association of Broadcasting Convention in 2016 and 2017. She is also certified by the RAB and the Radio Marketing Professional Program For Radio Sales. She aspired to work as an anchor, reporter or on-air for radio and television. Her dream is to work for a station in Nashville.