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Kane Brown

Experiment – 2018 (RCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

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CDs by Kane Brown

There's not a lot of room for argument to say that men singing country music today are different than the stars on the old Porter Wagoner show. Many have ditched the cowboy hat. They're hip-hop fans, video game junkies and spent most of their teenage money on tattoos. Kane Brown checks all these boxes and more. He's biracial, for example, subverting a country culture that seemed a little too exclusive for this century. And he built his following via the internet, not in clubs (a big improvement on a dozen people a night).

"Experiment" was one of the year's most anticipated releases. Leading into it, Brown posted three three number one hits (including the sensational "What Ifs" with Lauren Alaina).

So is the new record any good? Well, in short, yes. There's not a whole lot of "experiment" in it, mind you. It's a lot of slow-burn romantic grooves, like the Keith Urban-styled "Good As You." The track's a definite high point and sides well with the video where he used his own wedding as the visuals.

The whole front half of the record is a veritable poppy patch of radio-friendly singles that have performed well already - "Lose It" with banjo driving into a overdubbed frenzy of a chorus will likely land its hook in you. "Short Skirt Weather" is about as sly as Brown gets. And "Homesick" is another catchy pleaser, perfectly mid-tempo with a fingersnap drum beat. The production team often emphasize these types of simple backdrops which allow Brown to show his vocal stuff. They know what they have in his voice.

Later, things start to run aground - "American Bad Dream" means well (he is against school shootings), but the lyrics are juvenile poetry that's half-baked. Still, no matter what he's crooning you can't deny Brown his vocal delivery - it's as smooth as extra-churned ice cream. Hat or no hat, he was born to do this.