Chalk up Luke Bryan as another man who knows how to avoid a sophomore jinx. His first album, I’ll Stay Me, produced modest success in the Top 10 hits “All My Friends Say” and “County Man” (how “We Rode in Trucks” didn’t take off, I’ll never know), no doubt leading some to believe that he might be another Gary Allan in terms of chart success — that is, a regular visitor to the Top 10 but not really much more. But in the past year or so, he’s really taken off: two wins at the Academy of Country Music, and his last two songs have respectively reached #2 and #1 on Billboard. “Someone Else Calling You Baby,” the third single from his second album, is also a good candidate for reaching those numbers.
On the surface, it’s a sturdy enough 21st-century country song, with a hint of mid-1990s sound to it. Heck, the song isn’t all that far removed from Rhett Akins’s “That Ain’t My Truck” in its theme; it even goes so far as to use the same image of someone else’s truck in her drive. But at the same time, the lyrics are different and interesting enough not to feel derivative, and Bryan’s vocals are a perfect fit. While Bryan sometimes has a tendency to over-sing his way into a loud honk (listen to how he sings “clouds up in the city” on “Rain Is a Good Thing” — granted, that’s my only criticism of that otherwise-fine song), he mellows out just enough on “Baby” without losing any of his country-boy charm. At times, his phrasing recalls an early John Anderson.
Perhaps it’s good song choice that’s helped Luke Bryan find even more success with his second album. “Rain Is a Good Thing” in particular showed that it’s possible to mine new material from rural-living themes, and “Someone Else Calling You Baby” shows that lost love and trucks aren’t quite as well-worn as you might think. Expect Luke to keep rising in the ranks over the next few years.