Review : Luke Bryan - Doin' My Thing
PopmattersThe question “What is country?” is eternal, and not just among nerdy music critics. Contemporary country is filled with songs about what it means to be country. Some are defensive, some inclusive, and some pander to their audience in an obvious attempt for sales. Luke Bryan’s answer to the question, in the song “What Country Is”, is none of these, and very specific: you’re country if you were born in the country. Or, country “Ain’t a rebel flag you bought at the mall / It’s a hide away bed in an old horse stall”.
The song, written by Jamie Teachenor and Shane McAnally, is filled with evocative images of rural life, from cars pulling over for tractors to “homemade peach ice cream on sunburnt lips”, and they suit Luke Bryan fine. Bryan’s a solid singer with an amiable personality, but the main thing that sets him apart is how well he channels the specifics of rural life. On a good half of his second album, Doin’ My Thing, he sings about country life in a way that comes off not as hollow, trendy, or marketing, but as a true extension of what he’s all about, about where he comes from. Where he comes from is Leesburg, Georgia, population around 2600. I know nothing about Leesburg, but his songs make me feel like I do.
“Welcome to the Farm”, co-written by Bryan and Jeff Stevens, finds him taking his city girlfriend—and us, by extension—to the farm for the first time. While I’m not sure I believe that there’s too many small towns left where credit cards aren’t usable, his description of farm living, though romantic, doesn’t seem like complete fantasy. Romance, actually, is one of the song’s overriding themes, as Bryan expresses awe at how comfortable his ‘baby’ looks amid straw and dirt: “Girl, I ain’t ever seen you looking so good / As you do right now”. Maybe being country isn’t just about birthplace after all....full text
RoughstockThe second album in an artist’s career is often the hardest album to make. Because they had the advantage of time to make their first album and have great songs to choose from their catalog (if they’re writers), the singer often finds themselves hurried and worried about album number two. From one listen Doin’ My Thing, it looks like Luke Bryan doesn’t have to worry about a sophomore slum as he seems to have gotten better both musically and vocally on album number two. Losing none of the charm that made “All My Friends Say” and “Country Man” hits, Bryan kicks off the record with the banjo, fiddle and Hammond b-3 laced “Rain Is A Good Thing,” a song that feels tailor-made for people to sing-a-long to as Luke lists off how rain begets corn which begets whiskey which begets a frisky girl etc. It’s fun, basically nonsensical song that actually recalls Brad Paisley’s cute humor-packed songs.
The title track is written by the same team that wrote Jack Ingram’s Top 10 hit “Barefoot & Crazy” and Joe Nichols’ new single “Gimme That Girl” and like both the aforementioned songs, “Doin’ My Thing” is an up-tempo, radio ready song about enjoying life. Like “Rain is a Good Thing,” the song isn’t meant to be serious so it feels like an entertaining three minutes that it is. “What Country Is” uses a banjo and steel-infused smokey melody to back up lyrics that recall something one might find on a Kenny Chesney album but instead of being ‘beachy,’ the song is instead a smartly, written fun song that proclaims that ‘it can’t be bought, it’s what you’re born with, that’s what country is.’...full text
CountryweeklyCountry traditionalists have wrung their hands over the past several years worrying that the genre is becoming hopelessly diluted by outside influences from pop, rock and even (gasp!) hip-hop. But if country is becoming more urbane musically, it’s headed in the opposite direction lyrically—modern mainstream radio is stuffed to bursting with songs about the old-fashioned virtues of country life and declarations of rural authenticity.
Luke Bryan’s 2007 debut, I’ll Stay Me, suffered especially acutely from an overabundance of country-boy anthems. The follow-up certainly hits that angle, but also finds Luke edging carefully into other areas of interest: He shows a knack for convincingly delivering hymns to thwarted love like the first single, “Do I,” as well as lighthearted fare like “Chuggin’ Along” and the title cut. Unfortunately, his well-sung version of OneRepublic’s pop chart-topper “Apologize” serves to demonstrate that while outside influences keep things interesting, not every song was meant to be country....full text
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