Sony Music Entertainment
Release Date: September 9th 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Bury Me In Georgia
- Different Man (feat. Blake Shelton)
- Like I Love Country Music
- Go Around
- See You Like I Do
- Thank God (feat. Katelyn Brown)
- Leave You Alone
- One Mississippi
- Drunk Or Dreamin’
- Losing You
- Whiskey Sour
- Pop’s Last Name
- Devil Don’t Even Bother
- Nothin’ I’d Change
- Dear Georgia
I think by now you could probably call me a country fan. It was around three or four years ago when Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty released, and I listened to that entirely, and reviewed the album, when I realised that the artists who are deep and vulnerable and have something worthwhile and inspirational to say, aren’t limited to Christian artists at all. Fast forward until now, and I’ve listened to so much country music. Probably not a lot though if you’re a ‘true’ country fan… but enough for my standards at least. And it’s enough for me to declare that quite possibly some country artists are even more honest and vulnerable than Christian artists. Or maybe I should say artists who record music for CCM and worship… because an artist can be Christian but still recording music for the mainstream, and that’s another discussion all together. God has turned my definition of what He uses on its head, as I am gladly dismantling my preconceptions of music and putting them all back together again. This involves me spending a lot of time listening to country music- the genre I now find the most interesting out of all of the ‘mainstream’ genres.
Nowadays, I’m much more inclined to listen to and resonate with a country album, than with a worship album or a CCM album. I didn’t think me becoming a country music fan would happen, considering that I do not live in America, and aren’t accustomed to the country small town culture; but this year alone, as a site we’ve reviewed country albums from Walker Hayes, The Shires, Carrie Underwood, Thomas Rhett, Miranda Lambert, Kiefer Sutherland, Reba McEntire, Maren Morris, Tenille Townes, Hailey Whitters, Maddie & Tae (plus their second EP!), Brett Eldredge, Kylie Morgan (and another EP!), Shania Twain (plus her comeback single!), High Valley, Jimmie Allen, Tyler Hubbard, Luke Combs, Ingrid Andress, Breland, and CCM artist Anne Wilson. We’re also planning to review in the future, albums from Mitchell Tenpenny, Little Big Town, Rita Wilson, Lainey Wilson, and Kelsea Ballerini. I firmly reckon there’s never been a better time to listen to country music than this year; while in the past, other artists like Lady A, Rascal Flatts, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Chris Stapleton, Mickey Guyton, Tenille Arts, Lindsey Ell, Sugarland, Hunter Hayes, and Cassadee Pope (and Taylor Swift of course!) have all impacted greatly upon myself; as each of these artists and more have created moments of poignancy, epic awesomeness and magic. The future of country music (with all of these artists leading the way!), is incredibly bright; and this sentiment is confirmed in this next album that I am reviewing.
Kane Brown, a country/pop/R&B/rap star, has been around for 5-10 years. I haven’t really been super immersed with his music, and to tell you the truth I haven’t really sought him out to actively listen to his discography. He’s been described as a ‘bro-country’ or even ‘boyfriend-country’ star, and so when Different Man was announced, I was hesitant to listen and even voice my thoughts. But as 2022 is the year where I aim to stretch myself musically and lyrically- in order to see what God is saying to me through songs I previously never even gave a chance; well, I decided to give Different Man a go, and to dive in to see what all of the fuss of Kane Brown is about. And so… after 17 tracks of pop and country and rap, is my preconceptions about Kane warranted? Or is this a guy who, like Walker Hayes, is misunderstood, and thus deserves a chance?
We went from a demo to a master recording to redoing everything. I was listening to the album and not liking the sounds. For example, with ‘Nothin’ I’d Change,’ I really wanted it to sound like Motown at first. We had a lot of strings on it, but after listening to it, it was way too theatrical. We kept revamping things, working, and finding the sound I’ve been looking for, adding in more rock and country sounds and all of that affects how I perform onstage and put my show together.
She [my wife] doesn’t want to be an artist — she just loves singing. She’s always singing around the house and her voice is beautiful. We’ve been looking for songs and probably went through about five of them before we got this one from one of my writers at [publishing company] Verse 2 and it was supposed to be a solo song. We changed it to a duet, and she fell in love this song. Personally, I think it is the biggest song off the record. We’ll have a nanny that can watch the kids while they are sleeping, and then Katelyn can be onstage and sing with me. We’ll do ‘Thank God,’ and she’ll sing Lauren’s part on ‘What Ifs.’ Katelyn hasn’t done anything musically since she left Orlando, so we just gotta get her bearings, like learning how to use the in-ears [monitors] onstage. She’s never used those before.
When entering into the gigantic album experience that is Different Man; I had no expectations. And in some ways, that’s a good thing. I had no expectations, and hence, I was pleasantly surprised. Album opener “Bury Me In Georgia” is a country/rock anthem that celebrates Kane’s identity of who he is as an artist and as a person, and has him also declaring that he wants to be buried at a specific place in Georgia. While I don’t know if Kane is being serious in that that specific place in Georgia is actually where he wants to be buried; the sentiment still rings true. That someday soon, we all need to tackle out mortality head on, and actively determine what kind of a legacy we want to leave when we’re gone. Issues of death aren’t that prominent in country music, so kudos is definitely needed to Kane for revealing a taboo issue that we all need to visit; and as the rest of the album progresses, it’s clear that Kane aims to shed the party boy image and tries to sing more about things that matter to all of us.
The title track, a hard-hitting and stirring duet with Blake Shelton, is one of the highlights of the entire album, as the two vocalists speak about breaking the cycle of the ‘same old mundane life’; and wanting to be different than who you think you’re supposed to be. Everyone of us has all of these hopes, dreams, ideas for the future (some of them lofty and some of them realistic), and as Kane speaks about wanting to be a musician and not work a 9-5 office job, the issues of ‘doing things because of my parents’ or ‘taking over the family business’ come to the fore. And with this song bound to create discussion around the dinner table, the question needs to be asked. What do you want to do with the rest of your life? Is it a 9-5 job or something else? If you have dreams, how bad do you want them? And if you don’t chase them, will you have any regrets? As Kane sows the seeds of us all looking in the mirror and asking ourselves the hard questions; we are met with one of the most vulnerable songs on the album. “Like I Love Country Music”, a super cliché pop/country melody with tons of country music references (ala Thomas Rhett’s “What’s Your Country Song”), speaks about how Kane loves his wife just as much as he loves ‘country music’ (a feel good song that isn’t terribly deep lyrically nor thematically!); while “Go Around” is a ‘story’ type song of the persona begging a girl to give him a chance at a ‘go-around’ because he’s not going to hurt her like she’s been hurt by other guys before. “Grand”, the lead single and a melody that isn’t ‘country’ at all, but rather a pop/rap song, speaks about living this life one day at a time, and being grateful for each day, as Kane reiterates that I was in kind of like a dark space over quarantine — not really knowing my purpose. We weren’t able to tour or anything like that, so I was just sitting in my house, as everybody else was. I started realizing that I have a beautiful family and this artist opportunity and all this and that life is just ‘grand.’ And as Kane further goes deeper into his psyche with the revealing and vulnerable “See You Like I Do”, with him declaring to his wife that she is beautiful even when she thinks she isn’t; the topic of self-worth and inner beauty is explored, as we are encouraged to speak God’s truth of our beauty and our worth over ourselves and to rebuke the lies that we’re hopeless, useless or unusable.
“Thank God”, a hopelessly romantic love song, has Kane’s wife Katelyn on guest vocals, as the two of them profess their love for each other and thank God for the opportunity to be in each other’s lives. A song that is extremely vulnerable, honest, and personal to Kane; the beautifully sung melody speaks about the importance of commitment and choosing your partner each and every day. And as Kane reiterates that My fans have been waiting five years for us to sing together… There [were] actually four [other songs] that we had. I was like, ‘Babe, you’re going to be on this one, or this one or this one.’ And then ‘Thank God’ came in and I was like, ‘This is the one.’ And she said the same thing, but I’m so glad I waited for this particular one to come out. I keep telling everybody she’s my secret weapon, but this song is just, like, us. I feel like it’s any relationship song or anybody that’s married or going to get married that just knows. It’s like, ‘God put you in my life for a reason’; we are presented with a moving, inspiring song- and a melody that may just be as relevant and relatable as Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect”. “Leave You Alone”, another hopeful love song, is an extension of “Thank God”, whereby Kane outlines that his love isn’t going to leave his wife alone- meaning that he’s always going to shower her with praise and love until he’s a very old, old man; while the emotionally and somewhat politically charged “Riot” speaks about defending your rights as a American citizen, and standing up and never backing down to dodgy politicians and people who want to harm you in any way. Could this song be racially inspired, and maybe inspired by the death of George Floyd? Dunno, but this melody, which is lyrically quite vague, is nonetheless relevant, inspiring, and relatable, as Kane speaks about standing up for your beliefs, and never wavering from your convictions- no matter if you are in the minority or not. Inspired by “Dare You To Move” from Switchfoot? Maybe…
Coming through the halfway point on the album, and with already so much lyrically gems present, is Kane Brown’s album one of the most lyrically strong albums of 2022? Quite possibly, I reckon. Sadly, “One Mississippi”, a bar drinking song, is the real lowlight here, as the melody sings about a one-night stand. It’s a melody that I don’t connect with at all on any level; while the somewhat romantic love song “Drunk Or Dreamin’” is a melody that, though thematically has good intentions, feels a tad icky, as the song could be seen as being about sex and also having a one night stand. After the genius of “Thank God”, these two songs feel redundant and pointless; but vocally, Kane is at the top of his game here, and so they’re songs that I may let slide anyway because they’re nonetheless so catchy to listen to. The acoustic guitar driven “Losing You”, thankfully, brings the subject matter back to the thoughtful and the introspective, as Kane sings about his deepest, darkest fears, that ‘…when it comes to losin’ you, I don’t know what I would do, I don’t ever think I’d make it through, by myself or anybody else, I ain’t afraid to make mistakes, ain’t afraid to change my ways, ain’t afraid to look you in the eyes and tell the truth, I’m just scared of losin’ you…’, a melody where we’re forced to look inward to examine what we’re afraid of, and to really ask why that thing has its hold over us. Fear and anxiety are real emotions, and Kane tackles this topic with such grace and poise here; while the hard-hitting, raw, and emotional track “Whiskey Sour” (the most ‘countriest’ song on Different Man) has Kane recounting a bitter break up and the aftermath of his feelings around how he drinks whiskey in relation to his ex. We all do things differently after traumatic experiences because ___ reminds us of ___. It’s like a coping mechanism, and that’s neither a good or bad thing; and as Kane relays the messy part of living after a breakup, we are reminded that life moves on, and that sometimes the best thing to do is to keep moving forward, day by day.
“Pop’s Last Name”, an acoustic melody, is a moving, heartfelt tribute and homage to Kane’s grandfather who raised him after his father went to jail in 1996; while Kane provides us with a warning and a melody of caution in “Devil Don’t Even Bother”, as he sings about men trying to stay away from women who seem to be predators. We’ve seen in the news time and time again about men who prey on women and other men, and Kane is just saying that women who aren’t healthy for the soul- they exist too, and men need to be vigilant and looking out for them so that we all don’t fall into their traps and temptations. “Nothin’ I’d Change”, the penultimate song on the album, speaks about Kane’s secure relationship with his wife Katelyn, and about how there’s not a single thing that he would change about his relationship with her; while Different Man ends with the letter-esque ode to Georgia called “Dear Georgia”, where Kane sings a song to the people back home in his small town that he doesn’t see that often, on account of him now being a superstar.
I found that out in the early days when I was on tour with [Jason] Aldean — the importance of having artists out with you that have similar fanbases, but also artists that you can really hang with, before or after the show.
We’re just sticking to it [the new label imprint] and even with Restless Road right now, it’s been a bit of a grind. They came in during this pandemic and they finally got their first song out to country radio [“Growing Old With You”], which was a huge step forward. I do think we kind of messed up taking a slow song [to radio] in the summer, but the song was amazing, and they still get crazy feedback. We’re working on new music and getting them out on the road with other artists and just pushing forward.
Jake Paul and Logan Paul and the whole TikTok thing were really getting boxing underway. My buddy Ryan reached out to me, and I signed him and just wanted to help him with connections and things. I just love bringing different fanbases together that you would never see together. The key is that I’m not forcing anything. It just makes sense for me.
Different Man by Kane Brown is definitely a hybrid album. It’s a country album, but it’s more than that. It’s a brilliant project (although 17 tracks might throw you off!), and a project that definitely will be on my playlists on Spotify for many months and years to come. There are a couple of melodies that could have been omitted to make the track list tighter and more cohesive (“One Mississippi” and “Drunk Or Dreamin’” come to mind); but all in all, this is an impressive album. Within the wider mainstream audience, Kane Brown isn’t a household name- not just yet. But I hope through this album; that people won’t continue to sleep on him, and that he will finally get the recognition that he deserves. Sure, Kane’s songs aren’t totally country, but who these days sticks to one genre for their entire career? One may think that Different Man is a mishmash, the story of someone trying to find out his identity, but I for one see a common thread- Kane creating honest music that people can relate to- the title track is evidence of this fact. On the whole Different Man is one of the few shining lights amongst a sea of sameness in country music (or in music in general!), and believe you me, an energetic and positive album like this is just what we need, as we all try to live alongside the never-ending pandemic! So, if you’re feeling down and miserable, why don’t you put on Different Man and start singing along? I guarantee it, it’ll bring a smile to your face!
I released ‘Grand,’ and there’s so many comments that are saying, ‘This isn’t country.’ It’s like, ‘No [expletive]. I wasn’t trying to make this country. When I first came in, with how I look — tattoos, biracial, all that stuff — I was already getting perceived as a rapper, and it kept going on for years. [so] I might as well just take on that role.
This is the first time I’ve ever even talked about this, but I personally know Morgan [Wallen]. I texted him that day. I told him he shouldn’t have said it [the slur], but also knowing Morgan, I knew that he didn’t mean it in the way that the world thought that he meant it. I think if it was in a different context, I probably would have been fighting.
I used to always be nervous about what people were going to think, and I was kind of scared — I didn’t want people to think that I was leaving country music because that’s my heart. But now, it’s just to the point where it’s like, I’m a dad now, two kids; I care what they think. So I’m just not that scared kid anymore.
5 songs to listen to: Different Man, Thank God, Losing You, Pop’s Last Name, Nothin’ I’d Change
RIYL: Keith Urban, Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, Lady A, Chris Stapleton, Breland