First look at the cover for Kane Brown's full-length debut album, and you may experience a "Homeboy" moment. The young man appears like the tattooed model for Eric Church's song of the same name. Although Brown is categorized as bro-country in some quarters, the actual music he makes is much better than you might expect. This is one case where you shouldn't judge the book by its cover.
Although the album includes a lustful song like "Pull It Off," which is a kind of aural lyrical striptease, he follows this up with "Cold Spot," a quieter song where Brown's fine country singing voice comes through loud and clear. If you'd heard this song without first seeing the man's picture - all earrings and a backwards ball cap - you'd have likely pictured him as a cowboy hat-wearing traditionalist. It's a wonderful country song. Of course, one wishes there were more songs like "Cold Spot," and less like "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" - one that will likely go over well during Brown's opening spot for Florida Georgia Line. The singer has the talent to be a successful and (dare we say it?) traditional country singer.
There are pressures on new country artists that previous generations never faced. New faces these days are expected to please the frat party boy mainstream country music fans. This is the lowest common denominator factor. Hopefully, Brown will find a way to keep ahold of a beer-guzzling youthful audience, yet still create quality music. Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley do it, and to a lesser degree, Kenny Chesney many times walks this fine line as well. Let's hope Brown finds the right balance.