Album Review: Cole Swindell - “You Should Be Here”

Georgia native with a string of #1 hits looks to continue momentum with sophomore Warner Bros. Records album by diversifying his sound a bit from Gold-certified, self-titled debut album.

Cole Swindell seemed to come outta nowhere with “Chillin’ It” in 2013 and three years later he’s back with his second album, You Should Be Here. In the meantime he’s scored five #1 hits in a row, including the title track to this album. The album is hopefully going to help the singer/songwriter avoid a sophomore slump and after a handful of listens to the entire project (the Target Deluxe Edition, specifically), Cole Swindell largely does avoid that slump. In fact, The album is more consistent with stronger songs and Cole’s voice, while “pedestrian,” sounds much improved here, as one would expect with a singer having toured and sung night after night and learned how to best use his voice.

Second single “Middle Of A Memory” -- one of seven songs co-written by Cole -- is another mid-tempo track for the singer and it’s pretty much his sweet spot as a vocalist. Here, the song finds Swindell falling hard for a girl only to have her leave him before he could make his move. It’s a song most people have lived and that alone will make it something we wanna keep hearing through the radio speakers this summer. It follows the raucous opener “Flatliner,” a song performed with Dierks Bentley and it has Dierks’ trademark style with thumping kick drums and country rock guitars but it works REALLY well for Cole and I can easily see country radio loving this tune, if it ever hits stores.

90s country groves are represented by “Home Game,” “Stay Downtown,” and “No Can Left Behind” and that should find some loving those three tracks more than others. All three could be big hits if released but “No Can” is probably best left being a concert staple. “Up” and “Remember Boys” are both songs co-penned by Old Dominion’s Brad Tursi and are strong as well. The former is rocks and rolls while the latter is a song that works well when paired with the personal hit “You Should Be Here” in the sense that they’re both songs about leaving an impact but just told in different ways. “Remember Boys” actually reminds me a bit of Jake Owen’s “Startin’ With Me” in emotional impact albeit with stories told in different ways.

Some will write off Cole because of his crew of friends like Luke Bryan, Canaan Smith and Florida Georgia Line (the latter ones who co-wrote “Party Wasn’t Over” from this album) but to do so would be to ignore the obvious fact that he’s a talented artist in his own right and, with You Should Be Here, Cole has not only avoided the sophomore slump but he’s improved on his debut album with a record that is sure to please many, including his biggest fans.