Since releasing his debut single ‘Sleep Without You’ back in 2016, Brett Young has become one of the biggest stars in country music, winning over fans with his soulful vocals, pop-influenced sound and romantic lyrics. The California-born singer-songwriter has racked up eight top 10 Billboard Country Airplay hits – including six straight number ones – and three top 10 albums, as well as playing sell-out shows on both sides of the Atlantic and appearing at C2C on the Spotlight Stage in 2018 before graduating to the main stage last year. Now he’s back with his fourth studio album, ‘Across The Sheets’, the follow-up to 2021’s ‘Weekends Look A Little Different These Days’.
The eight-track project opens with ‘Dance With You’, Young’s tribute to his wife Taylor. It’s a mellow, midtempo number with a laid-back feel and a touch of country twang, as well as showing off his silky smooth vocals and a little bit of drawl alongside some impressive high notes. The dreamy, romantic lyrics fit perfectly into his discography – I can already see this featuring in a hundred wedding videos – and it has a lovely heartfelt feel about it that makes it feel completely believable.
Unsurprisingly the remainder of the album runs the gamut of love song subjects and styles, from the bittersweet ‘Let Go Too Soon’ with its big anthemic chorus as Young reflects on what might have been with a previous lover and whether she misses him too, to the more upbeat, pulsing rhythm of ‘Back To Jesus’ which lives up to its title with its religious imagery, organ outro and joyful feel. However, one thing which really stands out to me about the album is how specific the lyrics get. The chorus of ‘You Ain’t Here To Kiss Me’ is perhaps the strongest example of this, which sees Young sipping a ‘five dollar drink’ in an airplane seat on New Year’s Eve, watching the couple in the row in front whilst missing his ex. The vivid imagery completely transports you to the scene and you feel every ounce of emotion he packs into the acoustic-led number, particularly through his impressive vocal runs (a thread that goes through the album but particularly highlighted here).
For me the project’s three standout tracks come midway through. ‘Uncomfortable’ sees Young showing off his more sensual, flirtatious side, with its stripped back Spanish-influenced intro building up into layers – including a wailing bluesy guitar riff on the bridge – a touch of vocal gravel and lyrics packed with affection for and attraction to a long-term partner, as well as the second reference to the title of the project. It’s the type of song that in other hands could tip into slightly sleazy territory, but Young’s light, breezy touch swerves that completely whilst remaining completely believable. Elsewhere, ‘Love Goes On’ has a playful opening that pairs well with Young’s quick delivery and the smart references to chemistry textbooks and meeting in ‘old town’, which contrasts the mature message and soaring finale, whilst ‘I Did This To Me’ has a funky, rocky vibe reminiscent of Jordan Davis’ ‘Ruin My Weekend’ and lyrics which see him taking responsibility for a relationship falling apart.
The album closes with Young’s take on the Tim McGraw classic ‘Don’t Take The Girl’. Although the production doesn’t depart too significantly from the original, he injects it full of soul and feeling and I actually found myself moved to tears by the final verse. It’s a song that played very well with fans on his UK tour last year and I can absolutely see why he’s chosen to include it here, as it really shows off his vocal chops to the best of their power as well as his ability to make the song his own.
Overall Brett Young has produced another strong body of work that taps into all the elements that have made him so popular over the course of his career – particularly his vocals – as well as showing his growth as an artist. Whilst it may not be a radical departure from his previous projects, there’s a solid cohesion about the whole thing which means it flows together really well. When paired with Young’s stellar vocal quality and the complete conviction with which he delivers every song, it all feels very genuine and easy to warm to. If you’re in the mood for something romantic – in all its shapes and forms – then this is a great choice, and should keep existing fans very happy indeed.
Track listing: 1. Dance With You 2. Let Go Too Soon 3. Back To Jesus 4. Uncomfortable 5. Love Goes On 6. I Did This To Me 7. You Ain’t Here To Kiss Me 8. Don’t Take The Girl Record label: BMLG Records Release date: 4th August 2023