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Album Review

We've all seen cartoons and movies featuring a character with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. And it turns out that's a pretty good image to keep in mind on hard-rockin' country crooner Brantley Gilbert's fourth effort, The Devil Don't Sleep.

It's an apt title, in a couple of ways.

On one hand, the album's title track laments the fact that the devil don't fight fair, that "you don't hear him creepin." Elsewhere, angelic lyrics talk about forgiveness, baptism, church, unconditional love and heaven.

On the other hand, sometimes Brantley seems to cave to the devil on his other shoulder, the one who's more interested in the fleshly kinds of "heaven" we can experience here on earth.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

This massive 16-song effort concludes with three surprisingly spiritual songs, unusual even in a genre where shout-outs to Jesus are pretty common.

The title track, as mentioned, is about the wily ol' devil's wily ways: "Just when you thought you had him beat/He's in your ear, he's whisperin'/Lyin' again and again and again." But Brantley then veers into honest-to-goodness spiritual warfare territory. He paraphrases John 10:10 ("He'll lie, he'll kill, he'll win/Just ask me, I've been there") before prayerfully crying out for God's deliverance ("All you'll have left is a desperate prayer/You pray to God He'll save your soul/Like He has a thousand times before"). Later, Brantley adds, "Heaven knows he's hell-bent on me/ … Thank God that He can break me free."

Next, "We Gonna Ride Again" imagines a deceased friend riding his motorcycle in heaven as Brantley playfully anticipates a future reunion there ("How's that steel horse on the streets of gold?/ … 'Cause brother, we gonna ride again"). Album closer "Three Feet of Water" is about leaving guilt and shame behind in the waters of baptism: "As I hear the preacher say/'In the name of the Son and the Father/Who'd have thought I could leave it all/In three feet of water/Washin' over me."

"Rockin' Chairs" talks of finding forgiveness after a wild night ("These are the Sunday mornings/We talked to the Lord, get right with the Man upstairs"). "The Ones That Like Me" paraphrases that idea ("I got a sinner's mind, but I can fold my hands/I ain't afraid to pray, and I do know who I am, yeah"). That song also emphasizes friendship, loyalty, trust and love. Church gets another positive nod on "The Weekend." "You Could Be That Girl" references (albeit amid some significant problems) the need for a praying partner ("I need a girl who knows the good Lord/I need a girl who's gonna pray for me").

"Bro Code" tells the story of a weary woman who seeks shelter in her man's best friend's arms. To his credit, that guy doesn't have an affair (thus keeping the "bro code"), but tells his friend that he needs to get his act in order if he wants to keep his lady ("You better tell her you love her, you need her/'Cause if you don't, she's 'bout to be long gone, bro"). "Baby Be Crazy" finds a wild man longing to be tied down (metaphorically speaking) with a woman who'll love him well: "Deep down, what I want/I want you to tie me down/I want so bad to trust you"). Another guy with a crazy streak is thankful for his lady's unconditional love on "Outlaw in Me": "That girl knows that she's got me/And prays one day I'll settle down/And I just thank God she loves me/Even when I don't know how."

"Bullet in a Bonfire" deals with domestic abuse as a battered woman finds love and security with a new man who's determined to protect her. Unfortunately …

Objectionable Content

… that determination morphs into profane threats and stalking: "'Cause if you think you're a bada-- on a lady/Boy, you oughta see a grown-a-- man on a a punk-a-- joke like you." (Elsewhere on the album, seven of 16 tracks include profanities such as "h---," "a--" "d--n" and one use of the s-word.)

The good life on "Rockin' Chairs" includes excess ("Go way to far/Too fast, too hard/And have too much fun") and alcohol ("Some cold beers to drink"). A chemically enhanced summertime soiree is the subject of "The Weekend," too: "Take a shot for the regret/Double up and it's bound/To get double wild/ … Just do your thing like it's spring break/Wake and bake [smoke marijuana] and we at it again." "Bro Code" is a cautionary song about a struggling woman about whom Brantley says, "She only drinks when she's lonely/She only gets stoned when you ain't home." Two souls at a bar on "In My Head" swap stories about "our exes, about Jesus between some sips." Kissing (and maybe more) soon ensues. "Way Back" talks of two kids who shared their first kiss in the back of a Baptist church.

"Smokin' Gun" is about a drunk woman who shows up at 2 a.m. for sex ("Bitin' my lip and wreckin' my bed") but who's gone by sunrise ("But Cinderella never sees the sun/You'll be gone before mornin' comes"). Later, Brantley compares having casual sex with her to Russian roulette ("You're like a .44 mag with one bullet in it/It's a dangerous game, but I can't help but spin it"). "It's About to Get Dirty" features a woman in a "bikini top with cut-off jeans" who is just one of many participants in a muddy country party that concludes with "skinny dipping in the swimming hole." "Tried to Tell Ya" finds a couple fleeing police in a car … then having sex in it.

"You Could Be That Girl" is looking for a "A lil' partner in crime/ … Lil' miss watch for blue lights/While I drive, you can hold that .45/ … You could be that girl/And I can see that good girl gone bad."

Summary Advisory

Oh, Brantley. So much good stuff here. Mingled right next to so much predictably naughty stuff, too. I love this album's emphasis on trusting God, resisting the devil, and finding forgiveness. But just as often, there's behavior on display here that's definitely gonna require God's forgiveness later.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Country

Author

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Debuted at No. 2

Record Label

Big Machine

Platform

Publisher

Released

January 27, 2017

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Adam R. Holz

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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