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Lee Brice Is At The Top Of His Game With New Album Hey World

Photo courtesy of Curb Records/Lime Tree Music

REVIEW:  Hey World by Lee Brice (Curb Records/November 20, 2020)

According to Lee Brice, he’s overjoyed about his new album, Hey World, and he said, “I think I have made my best project to date.”  While I was certainly happy to hear that, I was also a little bit skeptical.  If you only knew how many times I’ve read a similar statement this year.  So many artists have said nearly the same thing about their upcoming projects.  For themselves, if they believe these are the best pieces of work they’ve ever done, naturally, who am I to argue?  For me, as someone looking at things from the outside, it’s a little different.

As you might imagine, I was anxious to rip into Hey World and listen for myself.  Brice has been around the block a time or two and has a proven record in country music.  He’s been nominated for Grammy awards.  He’s an ACM and CMA award winner, most recently winning the Musical Event of the Year CMA Award for “I Hope You’re Happy Now”, his duet with Carly Pearce.   That’s just the tip of an enormous iceberg.

Image courtesy of Curb Records/Lime Tree Music

In today’s digital music landscape, several of the 15 songs that appear on the album have already been released as singles, including “I Hope You’re Happy Now”.  Others that are currently available to stream even before the official album release date of November 20th are,  “Do Not Disturb”, “Soul”, “Memory I Don’t Mess With”, “More Beer”, “Hey World” and “One of Them Girls”, which was a multi-week number one radio single.  With all of these tracks already out in the universe, it left me wondering whether or not to touch upon them in a review so close to the release date.  I opted to forego them and focus on the remaining tracks that the public can’t yet get their ears on.

The first track on the album is called “Atta Boy” (Lee Brice, Jaren Johnston, Bobby Pinson) and unless you’ve got a completely sour outlook on life and just hate everything, there’s no reason to not like this.  It’s perfectly charming.  It’s the little things the male of the species do that deserve an “Atta Boy”.  Even the very youngest ones often know instinctively how to be gentlemen, and this song points that out.  Then again, sometimes, those seemingly small gestures add up to so much more, such as a buddy taking the keys away because it just isn’t safe if he doesn’t.  That scenario gets touched upon too.  Terrific writing.  Hey World opens on a high note.

What may be the most poignant offering on the record is “Save The Roses” (Lee Brice, Joe Leathers, Kyle Jacobs).  An emotional walk through the first days of a loss of life, from the deceased’s point of view.  Encouraging his family and friends to celebrate his life by engaging in joyful activities, rather than spending their time mourning, Brice delivers every lyric flawlessly and convincingly.

“You should be fishin’ with a cold beer in your hand

Instead of missin’ me here y’all should be missin’ me there high up in your deer stand

Save my truck and save my guns and when they’re old enough give ’em to my sons

Don’t let this stained glass shine on y’all too long today and save the roses

Save the roses, don’t waste ’em on me”

Some people think that subset of the guy population known as “Good Ol’ Boys” (Lee Brice, Ashley Gorley, Brian Davis, Ben Johnson) are indigenous only to the south.  I can dispel that rumor right now.  Having lived the majority of my life in the northeast part of the United States, trust me, they’re up there too.  The song, “Good Ol’ Boys” describes these characters and I’ll bet you my last dollar that people from just about everywhere will say they know a few.  This is just a laid back tune paying homage to southern boys, I would imagine, but I don’t hear it that way.  I hear it as most boys I’ve ever known.

If you’re looking for a love song, “Don’t Need No Reason” (Lee Brice, Kyle Jacobs, Chris DeStefano) is it.  It’s simply romantic.  There’s no glitzy window dressing.  This is a romantic tune for real people, which is exactly why I love it.  Brice’s deep, gritty vocals give it that slightly rougher edge many country fans look for in male ballads.

“I don’t need no reason to dance you round this floor

No special occasion to tell you I love you more

than a man’s ever loved any woman

girl I feel it 365

If you’re really askin’

baby, you’re the why”

Smart and timely.  That’s what “Sons and Daughters” (Lee Brice, Ben Glover, Joe Leathers) is.  With a hard-driving drumbeat that seems to push the message of this song home, this has it all.  Sonically and lyrically, it will grab you with a fierceness that you can’t deny.  It may even make you think twice before you make that next post on social media.  I won’t spoil it for you.  Listen for yourself.  This is a powerful track and everyone needs to hear it.

Flourishing with so many descriptions of the country lifestyle, “Country Knows” (Lance Miller, Marv Green, Jimmy Yeary) is one pretty little tune.  Like a friendly tour guide, a steel guitar swirls through this warm, comfortable trip through all-things country.  Brice seems to feel right at home delivering the chorus and every verse.  This song is his home and he’s welcoming you right in.

“When nobody knows how I feel country always will”

On any given album, there is usually one song that will stop me dead in my tracks.  For me, the show stopper on Hey World is called “Lies” (Tom Douglas, Scooter Carusoe).  I am awestruck by the brilliant songwriting here.  A fresh subject tells me the writers were at the very top of their creative game the day this was penned.   Brice’s vocals are so intensely unfiltered and honest.  Backed by a gorgeous piano, this is the resounding winner of the album.  It takes the biggest trophy.  Even after listening to it multiple times, I still take away more and more from it.  It’s anthemic in quality, which should be virtually impossible for a song that’s under four minutes long.  If ever there was a song that deserved to be longer, and even screamed for a full-orchestra’s accompaniment, this is it.  I would beg for that to happen some day.  If you only listen to one song on this album, make it “Lies”.

Photo courtesy of Curb Records/Lime Tree Music

Finally, the last song that has not been released early as a single, is “If You” (Lee Brice, Adam Wood, Brian Davis), and I’ll throw out a warning, don’t listen around the kids.  Maybe not anyone that gets offended by off-color language either.  This isn’t a Disney soundtrack-type number, but it sure is a whole lot of fun!  In fact, I can’t say enough about how much I personally like it.  If you’re easily put off by songs about guns and trucks, skip it.  This is not for you.  If those are your jams, this is going to be your new favorite song.  I will guarantee it.  Give it as much volume as you can to start with, because you’re just going to crank it up louder anyway, that’s a fact.  This is Lee Brice cutting loose for the fan base that brought him to where he is, and my guess is they’re going to be thankful for it.

As for the singles already released, go give them a listen on all the usual digital platforms if you haven’t yet.  There’s some good ones in that bunch.  What do I think about this being Brice’s best project to date?  Actually, I agree with him.  It is.  He’s made some really great records before, but this just raised the bar a lot higher.  Whatever comes next is going to require quite a bit of hard work.  He’s outdone himself with this one.  Every fan is going to be a bigger fan and anyone who missed the train before will be hopping onboard.  Brice is every bit as much in the game as the new players right now, it seems he’s just hitting his prime.

Photo courtesy of Curb Records/Lime Tree Music

Hey World Track List:

  1. “Atta Boy”(Lee Brice, Jaren Johnston, Bobby Pinson)
  2. “One of Them Girls” (Ashley Gorley, Ben Johnson, Dallas Davidson, Lee Brice)
  3. “More Beer” (Adam Wood, Brian Davis, Lee Brice)
  4. “Memory I Don’t Mess With” (Billy Montana, Brian Davis, Lee Brice)
  5. “Save the Roses” (Lee Brice, Joe Leathers, Kyle Jacobs)
  6. “Good Ol’ Boys” (Lee Brice, Ashley Gorley, Brian Davis, Ben Johnson)
  7. “Don’t Need No Reason” (Lee Brice, Kyle Jacobs, Chris DeStefano)
  8. “Do Not Disturb” (Brian Davis, Kyle Jacobs, Lee Brice, Phillip Lammonds)
  9. “Soul” (Tony Ferrari, Keith Kadish)
  10. “Sons and Daughters” (Lee Brice, Ben Glover, Joe Leathers)
  11. “Country Knows” (Lance Miller, Marv Green, Jimmy Yeary)
  12. “Lies” (Tom Douglas, Scooter Carusoe)
  13. “If You” (Lee Brice, Adam Wood, Brian Davis)
  14. “I Hope You’re Happy Now” (Randy Montana, Carly Pearce, Jonathan Singleton, Luke Combs)
  15. “Hey World” (Adam Wood, Dallas Davidson, Lee Brice)

*Featured image courtesy of Curb Records/Lime Tree Music/Photo: Ryan Smith








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