"Drink A Beer" is Luke's tribute to his two fallen siblings. Luke has not had an easy life. Losing one sibling is hard, losing two is simply devastating. The fact that Luke decided to record a song in memory of them shows that the guy has some character. He picked a song from one of the best songwriters and singers in the biz, Chris Stapleton. Chris also sings background on the track, and was featured in Luke's CMA performance of the song (He's the guy in the cool cowboy hat). Unfortunately, Luke didn't pick Chris' best song to be his tribute.
"Drink A Beer" isn't bad. It just comes across as ok. The production is fantastic. It is quiet and thoughtful. It has a soft acoustic country sound that really lets the lyrics tell the story and drive the song, rather than drown it out. That's what country was built upon. The problem is, the lyrics are a little meh. The verses are stronger, but it still feels impersonal. This song could be written about anybody. I wanted to hear Luke's story. Granted, he didn't write it, but he could have. Luke is a talented songwriter. This song feels like a generic loss ballad. If you want to see what I'm looking for more specifically, go listen to "Over You" by Miranda Lambert or "Go Rest High On That Mountain" by Vince Gill. Those are solid songs of loss. "Drink A Beer" is not bad, it just isn't a classic by any means.
The singing and harmony of the song is simply fantastic. Luke sounds better than he has in a while, and Chris Stapleton provides excellent support sailing over in the chorus. I wish the chorus had another line or two, however. It feels like they build this melody and story up and..... drink a beer. It just kind of ends. They could have done a lot more with that before just abruptly dropping back into the title.
Speaking of the title, this is my biggest criticism of the song. Not the title, but the theme. I mentioned this in my full Crash My Party album review, this is a pretty good song with some heart to it, and Luke STILL has to throw a beer in there for the frat boys. Look, drinking and country music go hand in hand, but not EVERY song has to have a reference. I think it's a shame Luke had to use that imagery in what is mostly a very heartfelt song. I don't doubt the sincerity, Luke very well may calmly drink a beer to remember, but I when I hear this, I picture an army of shirtless frat boys getting wasted for one of their bros and calling it "deep" while jamming to this song. That is the crowd Luke is trying to appeal to. It seems he wanted to be sincere and heartfelt, but still please his party crowd. I think he would have been better off sticking with a different theme to build this song on.
This review sounds like I hate this song. I don't. It's a pretty good release. If this was the worst Luke Bryan offered, he's be a pretty solid artist. When I heard Luke was doing a tribute song to his deceased siblings, I just envisioned so much more. The potential is there, but where Luke could have hit a grand slam, he hit an RBI single. It still scores, but he left so much on the table. Perhaps this song will open Luke up. He got the story out there, now he can dig deep and write a song about his feelings during those hard times, and create a timeless song like Vince Gill did, or like Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert did. Until then, this song leaves me wanting more. I do give him mad props for introducing a lot of new people to Chris Stapleton. That dude is going to hit it big in the near future, and this is a great stepping stone for him. Check him out if you like real country music. Now, back to Luke: I give it an A for production, an A for vocals, an A for concept, and a C for execution. Not bad Luke, but you can do better. I still would recommend this song, it isn't perfect, but it IS country, and that's a solid step in the right direction, Luke.
"Drink A Beer" live from the CMA Awards