Big & Rich are two of the hardest to pin down guys in country music. Many critics of the current country landscape point to their songs like “Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy), “Comin’ To Your City”, and “Rollin’ (The Ballad of Big & Rich)” and cast blame on them for the myriad of country-rap and bro-country. But, under the surface is something much more. Sure, they have a ton of silly, obnoxious songs, but they do it in jest. They also have written some of the best country songs in the modern era, even though many were not radio hits. “When The Devil Gets The Best Of Me”, “Holy Water”, “Cheat On You”, and “8th of November” are as good as it gets in modern country. With their latest album, Gravity, Big & Rich do what they do best: keep everybody guessing. In a word of objectification of women and party songs, Big & Rich released an album full of sentimental love songs. It certainly stands out among its peers, and it definitely makes a statement.
With all that being said, the album probably won’t win many end of the year awards, but it is an enjoyable listen with a few memorable songs. “Look At You” is a catchy as can be single, even it isn’t particularly styled in a traditional country format. One thing that Big & Rich has proven over and over is that they know how to write a catchy hook. “Brand New Buzz” seems destined to be a single as well, because it has an incredibly catchy chorus that has major earworm potential. “Lovin’ Lately” features Tim McGraw and is a very well written love gone wrong song. I could see this being a single as well. The title track “Gravity” is an interesting number, as it has a unique melody and subject matter. It works, though. “Run Away With You” and “Don’t Wake Me Up” are nice blends of modern country sounds and production with lyrics that actually say something meaningful. I don’t think many traditional country fans will dig the production style, but the lyrics at least make modern country respectable again. "Thank God For Pain" seems to be in direct defiance of the party-hearty aura of Nashville these days, with lyrics that boast of the good things that pain can produce.
While there may be a few duds, this is a very solid album. "Rollin' Along" and "Lose A Little Sleep" are pretty predictable and not really worth a second listen in my opinion. Now, if you like the fun and rocking side of Big & Rich, it isn't lost on this album "I Came To Git Down" is classic B&R, with its over the top guitars and playful two-part harmony. Big & Rich are at their best in this element. They are too fun to take seriously, and their party music has a feel of self-awareness to it. They know how ridiculous it is. That's the point. They aren't trying to spin this as some grand evolution, its just feel-good rock and roll with some country flavor. I can get into that. Where Big & Rich really shine though is on the stellar "That Kind of Town". This song is a bold retort to the abundance of small town anthems on country radio. In this song, Big & Rich can't wait to get out of the suffocating town. I love it. While I do love my small town, it isn't all roses. Small towns are not God's little slice of heaven on earth all the time. Big & Rich bring a little realism back to the radio by calling out small towns, and maybe even Nashville in general. The line about wanting to live "where there's more to life than just Bud Light and cruising around" seems to be in the face of country radio by name dropping their favorite subject matter and the name of the biggest bro-country hit by another duo. It is a subtle jab, and I love it. Big & Rich are fighting back. While they love their fun stuff, they take country music very seriously, and they want more substance as well. Good for them. This album is a winner if not just for "That Kind of Town" alone.
If you wrote off Big & Rich after their silly radio singles, give them another shot. I'm sure that with this album, and their previous albums, you will see a duo that seamlessly blends country and rock into a refreshing sound that balances fun with substance. Gravity may be their most serious album yet, as the guys are now fathers and husbands. While Gravity isn't my favorite Big & Rich album, it still fits right into the catalog and would be a worthy addition to yours.
Standout Tracks: "Look At You", "Brand New Buzz", "Lovin' Lately", "Gravity", "That Kind of Town", "Don't Wake Me Up"
"Look At You"
"Brand New Buzz"