Lee Brice was a well known name around Nashville before he ever released a single. Brice made his name through writing songs for some of country music’s biggest names. However, in early 2009 he decided he’d release “Love Like Crazy”. That song went on to change his life. Now two album’s later Lee Brice is well known by all country fans. Songs like “A Woman Like You”, “I Drive Your Truck” and title track off of his third studio album “I Don’t Dance” have helped shape Brice’s reputation one of country’s best ballad singers. Now Brice releases his third album and hopes to expand his range similar to the way he did on his previous release.
Before going any further there’s one thing you should know about Brice’s album. It’s not an album that you’re going to crank up loud and play over and over until you can’t take it anymore. Even the biggest Brice fans will likely struggle to listen to the album over and over. That being said, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great album. Lady Antebellum won a Grammy Award for their album “Need You Know”, and that album wasn’t a crank it up type. Eric Church has released two straight albums that upon first listen left you wondering what to make of it. Both of those albums were in consideration for album of the year across all genres. Your first listen of I Don’t Dance won’t leave you confused or deep in thought about the meaning of the music, but it will leave you questioning it’s place in country music.
Take the song “Always the Only One”. The first three minutes of the song are similar to many Brice songs; however when the song feels like it should be coming to a close there’s a twist. “You were always the only one,” echoes as Brice “raps” in the background. That’s something that Brice fans weren’t expecting for sure, but that doesn’t mean he’s gone “bro-country.” Every time you think the album is veering towards said “bro-country” Brice steadies the wheel as reminds you that he’s still as country as ever. Title track “I Don’t Dance” and sure to be hit “That Doesn’t Sound Like You” are pure country. They’re the songs that remind you just how good Brice could be.
The biggest quip about Brice’s albums has always been that he tries to do too much. That he strays too far from his comfort zone as he tries to expand as an artist. It was clear from the success of “Love Like Crazy” that Brice had the potential to become country’s next superstar. He could have recorded an album of slow songs featuring a couple of power ballads and rocketed to the top of country music. However, Brice is a songwriter at heart. He doesn’t want to be a one trick pony; he made that clear with songs like “Parking Lot Party” (the good) and “Beer” (the bad). He likes to have fun, make jokes, and create fun songs. Even if he doesn’t have the voice for it.
I Don’t Dance features a couple of these such songs. The most glaring example comes in the form of “Girls in Bikinis.” It’s a song that is everything wrong with country music. Declaring it repetitive would be the best compliment you could give the song that features a girl saying “Hey boy” and “Uh oh it’s getting cold in here”. If you choose to play the album in order things get no better when the next track comes on. On first listen the song “Sirens” is likely to remind you of Dierks Bentley’s hit “What Was I Thinkin.” The difference is that Bentley has a voice for fast paced singing that sounds similar to talking, whereas Brice does not. Luckily Brice heads right back to his comfort zone for the next track “Somebody’s Been Drinkin”.
Brice showcases his full talent on the song “Hard to Figure Out (The Airport Song)”. It’s a rarity in country music today for a song to grab you as quickly as this does. From the opening line, “Waiting in the security line I was mad as hell that I might miss my plane” you can tell that it’s going to be a hit. It’s a song that if released to radio is sure to be a number one, it’s a song that rivals “I Drive Your Truck” in emotion. It’s a song that upon writing this review I listened to five times. It’s not going to make you feel good in the way that most country songs do today. Instead it’ll leave you questioning your morals and feeling thankful for everything you have. Perhaps that’s who Brice wants to be as an artist. The one that makes you think, feel, laugh, and smile all on one record. There’s definitely an opening for that in country music, and hopefully Brice is able to fill that void.
It took two listens, start to finish, to get a firm grasp on the album as a whole; as well as multiple listens of select songs. The good news for Brice is that I Don’t Dance is a definite step in the right direction. He continues to improve as an artists. There’s some clear growth from his previous album. The bad news the progression is slow. Inconsistency is being a trend on Lee’s albums and that’s never something that you want to be known for. There are some definite hits on there, but at the same time there are some clear duds. As a whole I Don’t Dance leaves you wondering what could have been, rather than wondering just how successful the album will become.