Lee Brice's self-titled album is the kind we wish Zac Brown was still making. Granted, it doesn't include the faux reggae and jam band tendencies. It does, however, feature a bevy of heartfelt songs about the things that matter most in life. Best of all, its fine content is matched to high quality songs and performances.
"What Keeps You Up at Night," which reads like a dirty laundry list of every insomniac's nightmare, opens the disc. The single "Boy" is a sweet and truthful song about fatherhood that doesn't get all mushy, Hallmark card-y. The key song, though, is "Songs in the Kitchen." It's a smartly moving lyric about the central role music plays in our lives. Accompanied by an arrangement that includes both harmonica and banjo, Brice sings about how songs heard around the kitchen table, from the car stereo or sung in church have all played a pivotal part in creating the person he is today. Many of us, even though we aren't big country stars like he is, look at history similarly. Music is inextricably linked to every phase of our lives.
While "Songs in the Kitchen" is the highpoint, there are many others nearly as good. "Have A Good Day" is one of those 'make the best of things' songs that sounds like something one can easily hear Tim McGraw singing. Yet, Brice does a great job with it. There are also a few fine love songs. "Eyes Closed" speaks of how a loved one can feel so close, like "a tattoo on my soul," as Brice puts it. "The Best Part of Me" is a sincerely convincing love song. It's not just another throwaway romantic ode; Brice sings it from the heart. Heck, even the lightweight "Rumor," which comes off like a male version of a typical Bonnie Raitt love song, is a winner.
If Brice ever needs to use this self-titled full-length as his calling card, he's picked a fine one. He can be proud to put his name on "Lee Brice."