Brantley Gilbert Shines On ‘The Devil Don’t Sleep’
Outlaw country standout Brantley Gilbert packs a mean punch on his fourth album, ‘The Devil Don’t Sleep.’
Brantley Gilbert ranks among the bright spots in country music. The self-proclaimed outlaw is a beast in the game. He proved himself on his 2014 platinum-certified effort Just As I Am. The Devil Don’t Stop, hence is the continuation of his excellence – the And-1. Over the course of 16 tracks – the deluxe edition ups the ante – Gilbert proves why he ranks among the elites in modern country music.
“Rockin’ Chairs” initiates The Devil Don’t Sleep soundly. Gibert’s distinct, husky pipes shine on this reminiscent gem. Well written, the memorable, if lengthy chorus is the crowning achievement:
“These are the days that are gonna fly by / Like lightnin’ so they say / These are the nights, yeah the good times / When we let the wild side out to play / These are the Sunday mornin’s we talk to the Lord / And get right with the man upstairs / Get back to rockin’ out / So, we can say we were there when we talk about it / In our rockin’ chairs.”
“The Ones That Like Me” keeps the momentum alive and well. A spirited, mid-tempo country rocker, Gilbert delivers a performance filled with attitude. Call “Ones” the country version of the No New Friends vibe. He’s honest from the jump:
“Oh yeah / Ain’t gonna lie, I can count on both hands / My down to ride ‘til the day I die friends.”
As awesome as “The Ones That Like Me” plays out, single “The Weekend” trumps it. “The Weekend” yields familiar themes in country music – drinking, girls, and partying. Even being cliché, Gilbert does an exceptional job, ultimately selling the record. Considered to be a bit of a badass with a rugged persona, he superbly delivers a record chocked-full of machismo and wait for it…swag.
“You Could Be That Girl” doesn’t tread new ground, nor does it need to. Gilbert plays into his inner badass (once more), and he desires the same from his girl. His first line is striking: “Well I’m looking for a Bonnie.” Essentially, he wants his bae to edgy. Adding to the edge of the record is awesome band backing him.
“Smokin’ Gun” continues to find Gilbert flexing. He isn’t literally referencing a gun, but rather a girl who simply wants to hook-up, not commit. The chorus perfectly captures the temporariness:
“Pull the trigger on a point blank kiss / This close you better never miss / Heart beating like a bullet into my chest / Biting my lip and wrecking my bed / But Cinderella never sees the sun / You’ll be gone before morning comes / Like to love, but you love to run / You’re too hot to hold / Baby, you’re a smokin’ gun.”
“It’s About to Get Dirty”
“Bro Code” isn’t a miscue per se, but doesn’t rank among the elites. Still, it fits the vibe of The Devil Don’t Sleep, even being less memorable ultimately. “It’s About to Get Dirty” doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but definitely thrives off an aggressive, country-rock sound. Set in a minor key, there is clearly a darker edge. Gilbert showcases incredible grit and personality, while the freedom for the musicians to shed further amplifies the authenticity.
“Tried to Tell Ya”
Few times does The Devil Don’t Sleep play on the subtle side of things. “Tried to Tell Ya” is among those, finding Gilbert pulling back slightly as opposed pushing forward vocally. The effect is welcome, particularly with the vocals lying in his lower register. Few singers have a lower range as developed as Brantley. He should flaunt it more often. “In My Head” is also subtle, swapping a minor key for major. Essentially, the record plays as an ode to his lady.
While “In My Head” is a respectable ode, “Way Back” may be the truer ode:
“Girl, you take me / Way back / Me and you and this town / We Been through it / You could say that / I’m still the same ol’ boy in love / With the same ol’ flame that got away…”
Love continues to dominate Gilbert’s mind on “Baby Be Crazy.” He highlights his shortcomings on the verse, painting the portrait he’s unworthy to love. He confirms, hence, she’d “have to be crazy to love” him, given those flaws. The record is more tried-and-true than groundbreaking, but another well-rounded moment for the country standout.
“Outlaw in Me”
“Outlaw in Me” gives the singer/songwriter another excellent moment. Set in 6/8 time, Gilbert masterfully balances country and rock, appealing to both fan bases. Once more, self-characterization shapes this particular song. Brantley owns who he is, and the lyrics suggest that his wife does as well:
“My baby don’t try to change me / She knows / This is the way that God made me / She gets every flaw, my rebel heart, every tattoo, every scar / She’s in love with the outlaw in me.”
“Bullet in a Bonfire” conveys a prudent, relevant message – men, don’t abuse women. Gilbert isn’t there for it: “Boy, you oughta see a grown-ass man on a punk-ass joke like you.” His conviction is impressive on the chorus in particular.
Title track “The Devil Don’t Sleep” is sound, straight-ahead country. Once more, the darkness bodes in Gilbert’s favor. Penultimate record “We’re Gonna Ride Again” balances sadness and jubilance. Clearly dedicated to deceased friend, He recollects upon the good times and looks forward to the day they meet again. “Three Feet of Water” concludes The Devil Don’t Sleep reflectively. It isn’t a full-fledged gospel song, but it gives that sort of inspirational, spiritually-driven sentiment.
All in all, The Devil Don’t Sleep is a superb country album. Brantley Gilbert never misses the mark – even if “Bro Code” comes closest to a sketchier moment. Ultimately, this album showcases a tremendous musical talent. Gilbert isn’t one-dimensional in the least.
Gems: “Rockin’ Chairs,” “The Ones That Like Me,” “The Weekend,” “It’s About to Get Dirty,” “Tried to Tell Ya” & “Outlaw in Me”