Country has been turning its metaphorical, traditional wheels for a while now. Within the past few years, artists such as Thomas Rhett and Sam Hunt have begun incorporating mainstream stylistic influences that reach a broader audience than just typical country fans. And they’re not alone in their efforts.
Kane Brown has joined their ranks as a country artist who is also combining country sounds with pop and R&B vibes. He began his venture on his self-titled debut, Kane Brown, and he’s done it again on his sophomore album, Experiment.
But even as Brown leans once more into some differnet sounds, the 25-year-old Tennessee native still brings to the table a classic buffet of what Southern-tinged country living offers: drinks, love, broken relationships and a desire to tie the knot with one person forever.
Brown frequently gushes over his recent marriage to his wife, Katelyn Jae. In “Live Forever,” he relishes the idea of spending the rest of his life by her side: “If life’s just wakin’ up to you/Another day of lookin’ at you/If all we get is just to be together/It makes me wanna, live forever.” In “One Night Only,” he sings about his desire for a lifelong relationship: “I don’t wanna love you just for only night only.” And “Work” declares the singer’s commitment to marriage, no matter how difficult it might be: “Gotta make it work/I’m not saying it’s easy/Sometimes we gotta hurt/I promise I ain’t leaving.” The song “Good as You” covers similar territory.
On “Weekend” and “Homesick,” Brown says he’d rather be back at home instead of on the road (“It’s like half of me is missing, heaven knows it”). “Baby Come Back to Me” expresses a guy’s desire to be a “better man” in order to win back a woman’s heart.
“American Bad Dream” looks at some of the difficult issues America faces today, including school shootings and corrupt police officers (which Brown then contrasts with honest ones): “Now you gotta take a test in a bullet proof vest/Scared to death that you might get shot/ … Bad cops played the jury, made the good ones worry/About showing up and doing their job.” He also admits that too much bad news can feel pretty numbing after a while: “Is it this messed up?/Or is it really reality?/I’m becoming numb/To all of this tragedy.”
“My Where I Come From” chronicles the good aspects of Kane’s small-town upbringing, including the values placed upon faith, integrity, honesty and humility: “You bow your head before you eat/ … When I shake your hand I’ma look you in the eye/And if I’m wrong, I’ll apologize.”
Getting time alone with a lover is a key theme in songs such as “Lose It,” “One Night Only,” “Weekend,” “Good As You,” “Lost in the Middle of Nowhere” and “Short Skirt Weather.” In the first of those tunes, a woman catches Brown’s eye as she dances and lets loose: “The way you’re dancin’, swayin’ to the music/Girl, that body and how you move it/ … That dress hangin’ off your shoulder as you move a little closer/Yeah, let’s lose it, tonight.” And on “Short Skirt Weather,” Brown watches his lover strut down the boardwalk, attracting the attention of interested men and jealous women: “Watchin’ them jaws drop/ … They’re all too busy starin’/At what she ain’t wearin’.”
In “American Bad Dream,” Kane briefly looks back on his high school experience, singing, “Remember when ninth grade was about getting laid.” And in “My Where I Come From,” Kane describes how his rough upbringing still influences his character negatively: “And if what’s on my mind is what’s coming out my mouth/ … That’s just my, where I come from coming out.”
We hear some casual references to drinking and bars, as well as a few uses of “d–n” and “h—” on songs such as “My Where I Come From,” “One Night Only,” “Baby Come Back To Me,” “It Ain’t You It’s Me,” “Homesick” and “Weekend.”
Change isn’t always welcomed, and Kane Brown knows that he is paving his way through traditionalism with his new-school take on country music. In a recent interview with Billboard, Brown said that he feels like an outcast, but not necessarily in a bad way. His desire is to reach wider audiences by diversifying his sound. And for a genre that has appealed to a certain group of people for such a long time, it’s refreshing to see an artist reach for something different.
Even while branching out stylistically, however, some familiar-but-problematic country themes still make their way into Brown’s Experiment. We hear a few references to drinking, some profane words and allusions to steamy desires. Not to mention Brown’s frustration with America’s political state.
But amidst those concerns, faithfulness in marriage is still probably the most prevalent theme here as Brown focuses on loving one woman well for the rest of his life.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).