Brantley Gilbert’s new album, ‘Just As I Am’ was released digitally Monday. Prior to the release he had a message, “My fans know I’m a straight shooter so I didn’t leave anything out. I think there is something for everyone – from my party side to the gentler stuff.” Artists often make promises about upcoming releases, but few come through the way Gilbert does on this album .
Gilbert released the first single off of the album in December, 2013. ‘Bottoms Up’ quickly rose to the top of the iTunes country charts and has remained within the top twenty five since it’s release. The song also reached the number one on the overall iTunes charts for a short period about a week or so after it’s release. The commercial success carried over to the charts when it became Gilbert’s third number one (‘Country Must be Country Wide’ and ‘You Don’t Know Her Like I Do’ the others). The success of ‘Bottoms Up’ has helped propel the other three pre-release tracks to climb straight to the top of the iTunes Charts.
‘Just As I Am’ features a first for the rising star. Current single ‘Small Town Throwdown’, features vocal appearances from Justin Moore and Thomas Rhett. Both artists have toured with Gilbert for portions of his ‘Let it Ride’ Tour. Gilbert’s voice meshes well with the old school southern twang of Justin Moore and the smooth new school country style of Thomas Rhett. If the commercial success of the single is any indication Gilbert should be looking at back to back number one hits.
The remainder of the album is similar to his previous release, ‘Halfway to Heaven’. By mixing fun, upbeat songs with slower emotional songs Gilbert shows his diversity as an artist. Despite similarity in track styles, Gilbert’s growth as an artist is clear. ’17 Again’ is perhaps the strongest indicator of improvement from his previous album. Reminiscing on the memories of first time love in high school love Gilbert sings, “Get the butterflies like we still got our innocence just like we’re 17 again.” ’17 Again’ is sure to be released as a single in the near future and I fully expect it to be his biggest hit to date.
Overall, Gilbert’s album is excellent. Many artists struggle to make the leap from emerging star to star. Discovering who you want to be as an artist while accounting for commercial success creates challenges. ‘Just As I Am’ sets Gilbert up perfectly to conquer both. All eleven tracks on the album showcase his vocal ability and the ability to make strong country music. Expect Gilbert’s album to produce multiple hits in the future.