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Luke Bryan

Crash My Party – 2013 (Capitol Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

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CDs by Luke Bryan

They say if you steal from one person, it's plagiarism. But the great ones steal from everybody. And so it goes with Luke Bryan - a voice lifted from Ronnie Milsap, with the polite Georgia manners of Josh Kelly, the earnestness of Lee Brice and the drinking habits of Eric Church. You'd have to go to a polka party in October to hear more songs devoted to drinking beer. But, here's the crazy part: it all works.

It was only in 2010 that Bryan won the ACM for Best New Artist. Then earlier this year, he upset the unsinkable Taylor Swift for Entertainer of the Year. "Crash My Party" comes with the highest of expectations, but, somehow Bryan avoids trying too hard. Instead, he offers a solid set of odes to the joys of chasing love under the moonlight and under the influence.

The silky smooth come-on of the title track (which shows he can do a mean Trace Adkins, too) has already taken up residence on the radio. That's My Kind of Night and Dirt Road Diary, what with their catfish cookin' and Dixieland delight, are the sluggers on deck. Winning melodies make for Bryan's real ace in the hole. And, though he rarely pens a song, he knows the right folks for the job. Potential schmaltz stays just enough in check to set up the high-energy haymakers (Beer in the Headlights, Out Like That).

Bryan has one of voices like salt - it's not all that memorable on its own, but adds flavor to just about anything. In listening to this straight through, it's obvious that the more pedestrian the material gets (Goodbye Girl, Roller Coaster), the more bland the result. He can't carry his team on his back or make you forget a filler track. But for the multiple winning moments, Bryan specializes in sounding up for anything. It makes for a great escape - and a party worth crashing.