On the third studio album Different Man (released September 9 via RCA Nashville/Sony Music Nashville), Kane Brown leans further than fans or detractors might expect into traditional country sounds and stories without abandoning the pop and R&B flavor that defined his previous feature, 2018 Experiencea part.
Read on for a quick breakdown of the full 17-song list, from No. 1 country broadcast hit “Like I Love Country Music” and Top 40 pop banger “Grand” to freshly unveiled songs that reflect the different sides of a versatile singer – songwriter.
“Bury Me in Georgia”
An interesting stew of influences – funky blues-rock grooves, honky tonk attitude, heavy rock riffs and even Bobbie Gentry-esque string arrangements – launch a truly eclectic album. Lyrically, Brown begins the next chapter of his mainstream run by taking a look back at his Northwest Georgia debut.
“Different Man” (Feat. Blake Shelton)
Staying in a nostalgic state of mind, Brown provides insight into the motivation that gave him the courage to push back the expectations of 9 to 5 at home (“What if I was chosen to write the stories? / I wasn’t made to toe the line“) and chase fame. He is joined by his duet partner Blake Sheltonanother small-town dreamer made it.
“How I Love Country Music”
This recent high-end examines Brown’s early country listening habits, from Johnny and June to Brooks & Dunn. Bonus points for Ronnie Dunn’s vocal sample and line-dancing-themed clip shot at the Nashville courthouse: Hero Brown’s former employer becomes friend Randy Travis.
It’s one of the best identity songs –the age-old type where an artist emphasizes the good faith of their fan country– by a mainstream hitmaker of recent memory.
Even though this stunner amps up modern production elements and the sheen of pop, Brown’s deep Georgia drawl never seemed more evident as it melds with banjo and fiddle accompaniment.
When writing this Top 40 entry on counting your blessings, Brown intentionally downplayed his country’s credibility as a way to fully highlight other deep-rooted influences.
“I’ve always been so scared to go out and do pop. If you listen to a lot of my [songs]they still have that country vibe…this one doesn’t,” he said. Audacity. “Now I’m not scared, I feel like I am who I am now, just being comfortable with myself.”
Brown performed “Grand” at the 2022 MTV VMAs in what was truly a Shania Twain-level moment in the country-pop crossover timeline.
“I see you as me”
“See You Like I Do” sounds less like anything from Brown’s country heroes and more like a romantic bopper from a boy band. Or you could say it’s more NSYNC than Alabama.
While some might dismiss Brown for floating between cult 80s and 90s country and references to other retro touchstones, he should be celebrated for being the rare talent who can write and sing different styles without sounding out of tune. .
“Thank God” (With Katelyn Brown)
Before marrying Kane, Katelyn Jae Brown followed her own singer-songwriter boom. So it’s no surprise that she sounds like a superstar in her own right in this duet that’s as sweet as any collaboration between Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
“My fans have been waiting five years for us to sing together,” Kane said. Country Radio Today with Kelleigh Bannen. “The [were] actually four [other songs] that we had. I was like, ‘Baby, you’re gonna be on this one, or this one, or this one.’ And then ‘Thank God’ came along and I was like, ‘That’s the one’. And she said the same thing, but I’m so glad I waited for this one to come out. I keep telling everyone she’s my secret weapon, but this song is just us. I feel like it’s any relationship song or anyone who is married or getting married who knows. It’s like, ‘God put you in my life for a reason.'”
“Leave You Alone”
Add a romantic ballad crooner to the hats Brown wears Different Man. A mix of sentimentality and swagger puts it somewhere between John Michael Montgomery’s heart songs and the kind of material that could launch hopeful modern pop to notoriety.
Punchy, rock-inspired sounds — first concocted by Hank Williams Jr. and pushed into the new millennium by Shelton’s “God’s Country” — set the tone for another balance between Brown’s country allegiance and his gender chameleon.
Much has been written about “One Mississippi” — namely its feel-good backstory. It started when then-unknown singer-songwriter Levon Gray tagged Brown in an Instagram post and ended with Brown asking Ernest K. Smith and Jesse Frasure for a favor.
“I asked them if they would write with [me and] a new writer no one in Nashville had heard of before. They gave him a chance, and it was kind of like his audition,” Brown said. country now. “He came into the writing session with the title ‘One Mississippi.’ I kind of sat back and let him take charge, to see how he was going to do.”
The steamy single reached No. 1 in March on both Billboard and Country Aircheck/Mediabase country broadcast charts.
“Drunk or Dreamer”
The easy-listening (and easy-living) energy sets this whimsical waltz apart, which nine months from now will rival Brian Kelley’s solo material for the headliner of your summer 2023 playlist.
“Losing You” fits the smooth R&B and pop-country mold that brought Brown to dance. Like Brown’s earlier songs in this vein, it’s lyrically stronger than many of his so-called “bro country’s” most maligned tracks.
Brown’s previously mentioned reverence for Travis and other more traditional legends shines here more than ever. Even the pickiest critics of modern, radio-friendly country music should give this ideal platform for Brown’s baritone delivery a fair shake.
It is one of two songs on the album (with “Thank God” being the other) not co-written by Brown.
“Pop’s Last Name”
One of Brown’s most personal songs to date tells the story of Steve Allen Brown: the maternal grandfather who helped raise him. The brown eldest died on September 11, 2020 – almost two years to the day Different Man‘s release– at age 65.
“My dad was my last grandfather and he just passed away last year, but he was my only father figure because my dad’s been in jail since I was a kid so he’s the one who came and learned baseball, you know, took me on the records,” Brown said. Country Radio Today with Kelleigh Bannen. “I talk about it in the song, going through the battlefield, there was this statue, because the Civil War happened in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, on the battlefield. And there were these statues and he always acted like the statue was talking to me when I was young I remembered that… But when I was going through child abuse and stuff with my stepdad and stuff he was there for … I wasn’t going to go to baseball practice one day, he came and took me out of the house and said, ‘He’s coming with me.’ [He] was just a great father figure. And so I had to write a song about him.”
“The Devil Doesn’t Even Bother”
In the tradition of Johnny Cash, Brown adopts a talking blues delivery for a galloping mix of hip-hop reference points and the latter half of the country-western equation.
“Nothing I Would Change”
One final twist loosely fits the same mold as Midland and Jon Pardi’s breeze takes the country back.
It’s another showpiece of Brown’s vocal adaptability and storytelling ability. Additionally, of the album’s most rooted elements, it sounds the most like a potential radio hit.
Brown brings it all home, capping a 17-song journey with a pop-country banger who declares his heart is in Georgia no matter where he lays his head.