Album Review: Kane Brown - "Kane Brown"

Country music’s first Digital-era grassroots discovery delivers a project that will almost certainly open more than a few eyes.

East Tennessee’s Kane Brown first came to prominence through Facebook and YouTube singing covers and originals and grew a passionate, engaged fan base which helped him make it to the top of the charts without a record label. Now signed to RCA Records Nashville, Kane Brown has this album --his self-titled, first full-length project -- ready to launch.

“Thunder In The Rain” is the lead single from Kane Brown and while the song has sold a couple hundred thousand downloads and earned accolades throughout the digital realm, it has struggled to become a country radio breakout. It’s a shame in that regard because the song is as good as anything else that typically gets to the mainstream. The chorus is arena-ready and the melody is engaging. The album’s opening song (Co-Written by FGL’s Tyler and Brian and one of four songs not written by Kane Brown) is a smart opening track. It’s about a guy who wants the folks where he comes from to be proud of what he does. It feels like a hit and likely will be with fans while “Learning,” a song written with frequent Hunter Hayes collaborator Sam Ellis and Blake Anthony Carter, has a Colt Ford-like vibe with the spoken (rapped) verses and a very twangy chorus.

To describe Kane Brown’s sound is a little hard except to say that he’s a blend of Brantley Gilbert, Sam Hunt, Chris Young, Drake and Colt Ford and that makes for a unique artist which is why fans have clamored to him. “Pull It Off” is a perfect example of this with his Gilbert-like strut while Cold Spot is a song which showcases how much pull the newcomer has as a writer to be able to write with Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin, the team behind “The House That Built Me.” This one has a similar nostalgic vibe and honestly, this should be the second single from this project. This is one radio should eat up. Chris Young, co-wrote “Comeback” and it’s a nice mid-tempo ballad with hit potential. Closer “Grandaddy’s Chair” is a sweet, honest song honoring the man who made Kane the man he is. It’s the kind of country music that has been around for a long time. Sentimental to some, honest and thankful to most others.

The second half of Kane Brown is stronger than the first half with better hooks and lyrics but that doesn’t mean the entire 11 track album isn’t surprising because it really is. Kane Brown, who basically took Nashville by surprise, has cultivated a debut album which blends quite a few flavors but there’s no mistaking Kane Brown is a country artist. The album is a strong mainstream start to an already promising career.