Luke Bryan: ‘Tailgates & Tanlines’

Luke Bryan has been going full steam ahead since he burst onto the country music scene in 2007 with his debut hit “All My Friends Say.” With six Top 10 hits (three of which were No. 1 singles), and two hit albums under his belt, Bryan delivers his third album Tailgates & Tanlines, which solidifies his place among the best of today’s country male vocalists.

Bryan co-wrote eight of the thirteen new tracks with some of Nashville’s most celebrated heavy-hitters (Rhett Akins, Josh Kear, Dallas Davidson), including the hit “Country Girl (Shake It For Me),” which has saturated airwaves, becoming Bryan’s fastest-rising single to date. The lead-off track, which surely everyone has heard by now, has prompted country girls to shake it collectively over the long, hot summer.

Bryan’s voice is in peak form and has never sounded better than on the mid-tempo “I Know You’re Gonna Be There,” which is about plucking up the courage to face an ex-lover. “I’m gonna put on my new shirt, shine up these old boots/Take a deep breath, try to keep my cool,” the Georgia native confesses in his endearing and distinctive southern drawl.

“All we do right is make love/And we both know now that ain’t enough,” Bryan sings on the upbeat “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” Written by Bryan with Shane McAnally and album producer Jeff Stevens, this country rocker is a real knockout that sounds ready to burst onto the airwaves and race up the charts.

Tailgates & Tanlines is, for the most part, exactly what the title implies: a soundtrack for fun and sun, along with an instantaneous cure for the summertime blues. However, it’s the moments when Bryan digs deeper, such as on Radney Foster’s emotionally-charged “I Knew You That Way” and the somber “You Don’t Know Jack,” warning against the dangers of alcohol abuse, when he really shines. These brief instants trump the fluffier material and hint at the kind of greatness Bryan is capable of delivering on future albums.

© 2011 ForASong Media, LLC

Chris Young: ‘Neon’

Neon is the third album by 2006 Nashville Star winner and Grammy-nominated country vocalist Chris Young. On the verge of scoring his fourth consecutive number one single with “Tomorrow,” Young, who hails from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is acutely aware that now is the perfect time to up the musical ante, and it appears he’s done just that. This time out, Young co-wrote seven of the album’s ten tracks with some of the best tunesmiths Nashville currently has to offer, making this his best and most ambitious album yet.

Neon gets kick-started with the fast-paced, sexual innuendo laden “I Can Take it From There,” written by Young, Rhett Akins, and Ben Hayslip. The upbeat ditty comes on strong and immediately sounds like the obvious choice for his next single. “Grab a couple glasses and a bottle of wine/Walk down the hall and turn down the lights/Baby, while you’re at it you might as well let down your hair/And I can take it from there,” sings Young in a deep, throaty, baritone that is 100% genuine country.

Keeping things flowing along in a playfully romantic mood is “Lost,” which was co-written by Young and Brad Paisley’s key songwriting partner Chris DuBois. “No I ain’t got no plan in mind/It’s such a perfect night/So I just thought we could get lost.” The lyrics may not sound like Shakespeare, but they make one hell of a great country hook.

Slowing things down is the previously mentioned romantic ballad and lead off track “Tomorrow,” which is Young’s fastest rising single to date and really highlights the vocalist’s country chops, while demonstrating he can deliver a ballad with both ease and sincerity.

Neon’s pace quickens again with “Save Water, Drink Beer,” which unfortunately follows the current country trend of less than spectacular formulaic beer drinking anthems. Although it sounds a bit unoriginal and redundant, it’s sure to raise a crowd’s energy level during live sets on Young’s upcoming tour.

The album’s title song, written by Shane McAnally with Josh Osborne and Trevor Rosen, is another standout. This mid-tempo number focuses your attention onto the real star attraction of the album, which is Young’s superb voice and undeniable vocal skills. “Neon, the light they always leave on/A weekend on the rocks/An old school jukebox/It’s the buzz I love to be on/The light at this end of the tunnel is neon.” Also not to be missed is the bouncy “You,” co-penned by Young and ace songwriter Luke Laird, which already sounds like it’s destined for country radio playlists and honky tonk dance floors.

© 2011 ForASong Media, LLC