It’d be easy to dismiss Bailey Zimmerman as yet another Music Row creation except that he’s not one of those at all. Bailey Zimmerman became popular through TikTok where he shared his songs and his core songwriting collective has found popularity much in the same way with his producer Austin Shawn one of his most-frequent co-writers. “Fix’n To Break” is one such song and it feels like he’s leading a modern emo movement within country music as the songs primarily on Religiously are all up in their feelings and that’s probably for the best as it also sets him apart from the party bros of the genre’s recent past.
“Forget About You” has an alternative rock undercurrent while “Warzone” is a downtempo emotive ballad and “Religiously,” the title track and third single falls in that emo lane as well. “Chase Her,” one of the few songs not co-written by Bailey Zimmerman on Religiously, feels like it’s ready for prime time as a future radio hit. There’s a sing-a-long feel to it even if it too has a reflective narrative lyric about doing things different. “You Don’t Want That Smoke” has a poetic storytelling “been there, done that” feel to it. Acoustic in nature, this is the kind of song that demands attention (it, too, from outside writers, this one from Jimi Bell and Tucker Beathard).
“Found Your Love” is a song where we find Bailey Zimmerman sort of happy with him finding love instead of the hurt often detailed in his biggest hits to date. His cover of “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” (most-recently made famous by Johnny Cash) works as a great part of his album, as does “Where It Ends” and “Is This Really Over?” The sixteen tracks featured on Religiously suggest that Bailey Zimmerman has the goods to be a longtime star in country music and it is one of 2023’s best debut releases.