On his fourth studio album, reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan spends ample time describing his perfect date. Like in his previous hits including 2011’s infectious “Country Girl (Shake It For Me),” headlights, dancing and beer are at the top of the list as Luke delivers a carefree set with arena crowds in mind.
Working once again with producer Jeff Stevens, Crash My Party, due in stores August 13, largely takes place down a dirt road away from the city lights. Though the hick-hop influenced opener, “That’s My Kind of Night,” comes equipped with a club-ready beat, 35-inch truck tires also appear to come stock as the song sets up under the stars and keeps things decidedly country with lines referencing a little catfish dinner. This might be Luke’s most overt detour into hip-hop territory, but the secluded dirt road themes continue through a large part of the project.
“Beer In The Headlights,” “Out Like That” and “I See You” all take listeners down rural roads in the middle of the night. Strong rhythms and hook-driven choruses run through each even though the latter spins a dark tale of an inescapable memory as midtempo power chords grind. Luke consistently proves he’s up for more dynamic melodies on Crash My Party as many of the songs feature impressive twists and turns. His growth in this department shows on “Out Like That,” where his voice flows confidently through precisely timed runs of various speeds during the chorus.
Luke released a full-length spring break-themed collection in March and many of his sun-drenched fans will be happy to hear there’s a little beach sand in this set as well. Some of Crash My Party’s best visuals come on the standout track “Roller Coaster,” which finds him twisted like an old beach roller coaster after a week-long fling, as floating guitar lines hover. The bro-heavy tunes “We Run This Town” — which offers a nostalgic trip down high school’s memory lane — and “Blood Brothers” — where Western metaphors abound amidst a high-noon arrangement — implicitly touch on the Greek system side of Luke’s music. However, the excitingly spontaneous “Play It Again” may be Luke’s best co-ed bonfire mixer to date. With a girl who consistently interrupts every pickup line he offers due to the radio playing her favorite song, Luke catches the spur-of-the-moment feeling perfectly with quickly revolving melodies.
Crash My Party showcases Luke’s evolution as a performer. Arena-ready hooks and big distorted power chords are around every corner, but it’s his strong grasp of expressive melody that catches the ear. “Goodbye Girl,” one of the album’s best songs, mixes hints of R&B-flavored ’60s pop into an easily swaying country song. The reflective “Drink A Beer” delivers an Americana-tinged chorus that goes down easy with the help of Chris Stapleton (who co-wrote the song) on harmony vocals. Luke himself co-wrote the album’s most autobiographical track, “Dirt Road Diary,” which offers a look at his life growing up. With scenes of fixing fence posts next to his father or hitting the swimming hole with the object of his affection, it’s no wonder those back roads lead to some of Luke’s favorite places. On Crash My Party, Luke pairs country themes with arena riffs to lead fans on a fun-loving tour of his dirt road roots.
Key Tracks – “Goodbye Girl,” “Roller Coaster,” “Play It Again,” “Drink A Beer”