Label: Valory Music Co.
Release Date: January 27, 2017
Reviewed by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur
Some artists understand the process – be yourself, maintain a sound that appeals not only to your tried and true fans but also fringe fans, and don’t forget to build your fan base along the way. Brantley Gilbert has figured this out and continues to build his discography around a similar theory. With the release of his fourth disc, Gilbert is firing on all cylinders. Disc opener “Rockin’ Chairs” has a little more twang than some of Gilbert’s fans are accustomed to, but within seconds we are greeted with the familiar guitars and raspy voice we are all familiar with. While not an all-out rocker, this song helps set the pace for the rest of the disc. “The Ones That Like Me” is one of my favorite songs on the disc lyrically. The chugging riffs and solid rhythm section give the track a solid foundation that bridges country and rock, while the vocals lean more towards Nashville, as do the words Brantley is singing to us. “Bro Code” is another track that starts off with a heavier country groove but quickly shifts into rock territory thanks to the guitar work, especially when the solos kicks in. The lyrics are perfectly delivered by Gilbert and carried by the tempo and cadence supplied by bottom end from the bass and drums. “Way Back” demonstrates how well Brantley’s material straddles the fence of rock and country, staying true to who he is as a songwriter and performer. This story of true love pulls at the heart strings while getting the foot tapping and should go over well in a live situation. Title track “The Devil Don’t Sleep” is another song that digs in and allows you to see inside Gilbert’s heart and faith while delivering some killer riffs and deep lyrics.
“The Weekend” is the first single off of the new disc, and it’s easy to see why. The vocals from Gilbert carry the meaning of the lyrics across the musical tapestry on this track, but keeps the heart of song from getting away from the musical vibe created. I see this track getting a lot of raised drinks and fists when Brantley road tests this track on his Devil Don’t Sleep tour. “Smokin’ Gun” is another song that gets the foot tapping, the head banging, and delivers great lyrics about that one relationship we all know if bad for us, but too good to pass up. You can’t help but dig a song with a lyric like Bitin’ my lip and wreckin’ my bed. “It’s About To Get Dirty” comes blazing out of the gates with balls and attitude from the first note… don’t be confused when the tempo slows a bit at the verse. This riff-filled track is a rocking party tune that shines on the chorus and bridges, especially when the guitar solos drop in with a party vibe that takes over the track. “In My Head” is a beautiful ballad that shows off Gilbert’s softer side, much like other songs from his last couple albums without sounding dated or rehashed. This is a great song that should find its way onto many an iTunes playlist this summer. “Baby Be Crazy” builds on the cool love vibe of other songs on the disc. Laying all of his cards on the table, this song comes from the heart and head of a man that is willing to do what it takes to have the love of the woman he wants. “Bullet In A Bonfire” is a killer track… from the lyrics, to the music, to the overall groove of the song, especially when the chorus kicks in. This poignant song carries a strong message to guys that feel it is okay to put their hands on someone they shouldn’t. If the chorus doesn’t grab you when Brantley proclaims you got me growlin’ like a pit bull brother, I’m about to lock my jaws, nothing will.
“You Could Be That Girl” opens with a cool sound that blends the different vibes of the disc together and swirls them with a whole lot of confidence and attitude in Gilbert’s vocals. Listening to this song, it feels like we are in the backseat of BG’s truck cruising down a country back road listening to him convince that special lady next to him that she certainly could be that girl. “Tried To Tell Ya” has the same flavor and vibe of other songs on the disc, but the lyrics are a little deeper than most. The storytelling continues on this track as Brantley gently reminds the girl riding shotgun that he gave full disclosure before she came along for a ride. The musical accompaniment is great on this track, heavy on bottom end and percussion, but it fits the feel of the track and the sentiment of the lyrics. “Outlaw In Me” is another song that hits hard and deep without coming over the top musically. The vocals are sweet and take me back to his earlier hit “My Kind Of Crazy” from 2010’s Halfway To Heaven. The guitar work is killer and drives home the vocals while accentuating the song at points between the verses and chorus and through the bridge. “We’re Gonna Ride Again” allows Gilbert to look at death of a friend through a different set of eyes – ones of love and faith. The sentiment may or may not stem from real life for Brantley and his songwriting partners, but it certainly is written from the heart. Disc closer “Three Feet Of Water” visits BG’s faith once again. His artistry as a songwriter, singer, and performer seems more genuine thanks to songs like this – songs of love, forgiveness, and belief in something… anything… greater than yourself. The way his vocals deliver the lyrics pull at the heart and brought this reviewer near tears. This collection of songs has it all… country songs of love and fun, kick ass rockers, and mellower songs that will speak to different fans at different times in different ways. That is the sign of a great album and guarantees a lot more spins in my CD player. Oh yeah – be sure to grab the deluxe edition and check out five cool demos that are as good as some of the tracks here…
Tracklisting: Rockin’ Chairs – The Ones That Like Me – The Weekend – You Could Be That Girl – Smokin’ Gun – Bro Code – It’s About To Get Dirty – Tried To Tell Ya – In My Head – Way Back – Baby Be Crazy – Outlaw In Me – Bullet In A Bonfire – The Devil Don’t Sleep – We’re Gonna Ride Again – Three Feet Of Water
Deluxe Bonus Tracks: At Least We Thought It Was – I’ve Been There Before – Against The World – Closer Than We’ve Ever Been – You Promised – Read Me My Rights (Live) – Hell On Wheels (Live) – Grown Ass Man (Live) – Outlaw Women (Live) – Kick It In The Sticks (Live)
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