Album Review: Luke Bryan - "What Makes You Country"

Fifteen new tracks, including "Light It Up" and "Most People Are Good," make up Luke Bryan’s sixth album for Capitol Records Nashville.

Opening up with "What Makes You Country," the album's title track, Luke Bryan immediately showcases why he became one of the most-popular stars of the past decade in country music.: he sings songs about himself, his friends and his audience. This one, an anthem which is to likely be both a radio hit and the opener of his concerts for years to come, also speaks of becoming who you are and that you don’t have to be born and bred or even from the rural areas to be “country.” “Out Of Nowhere Girl” and “Bad Lovers” both speak of dalliances with the opposite sex while “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” is the kind of song that stirs up memories of good summer days gone. “Hungover In A Hotel Room” (which features Emily Weisbend in a supporting vocal role) has a moody melody as it describes a couple in the midst of a morning after a night of bliss.

While there’s plenty of relationship-related music and good times to be had here, there are a couple of songs which will make you stand up and pay attention to What Makes You Country. The first of those is “Most People Are Good,” a song which is subdued in approach but is basically a song that believes in the beauty of humanity and that we all, in the end, really want the same things out of our lives. It also manages to be inspirational without feeling preachy (Though I suspect people WILL call it that when it becomes another hit single for Luke Bryan). “Land Of A Million Songs” is another special moment on the record. It’s basically how and why a musician does what they do. “Win Life” is another attention grabbing moment on What Makes You Country as it describes the need to living to work instead of working to live. Another interesting, attention-grabbing moment is “Drinking Again,” about as simple a sing-a-long song as an artist can have in their repertoire.

Because they have to and it’s part of evert fiber of their being. “Like You Say You Do” is a pleasant song with the kind of details that feel like a cousin to “Jesse’s Girl.” “Hooked On It” is about getting addicted to the music (and works as a cousin to “What Makes You Country”). Interestingly, “Light It Up,” the lead single from this project, is probably the least likable song on the record. So, in a record that is over 51 minutes long and fifteen songs deep, that’s saying something. It remains to be seen if What Makes You Country will become the best recording of his career but it certainly is something fans new and old will find more than enough to like on it.