REVIEW: Florida Georgia Line’s new album tackles country clichés in a fun way

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The album cover of "Can't Say I Ain't Country." (Courtesy Photo by Florida Georgia Line)

The title of Florida Georgia Line’s new album, “Can’t Say I Ain’t Country,” seems to be a deliberate response to critics of the duo — Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley — who diverge from the traditional country look and are well known for collaborating with artists outside of the genre.

I can assure you, “Can’t Say I Ain’t Country” is definitely country. In fact, the first half of the album is almost a little too country.

Hubbard and Kelley primarily follow trends of contemporary country music in the first half of the album, before settling into their more unique wheelhouse. Additionally, the inclusion of a few comedy skits to set up songs adds some personality to this album.

The second half of the album is stronger because it’s what you want and expect from Florida Georgia Line; it isn’t the duo trying to fit themselves into spaces already created by their genre.

I promise I’ll get to the titular song and the good stuff, but I want to get my complaints out of the way first. Three songs that appear early on in the album, “Talk You Out Of It,” “Women” and “People are Different,” all borrow from current country trends. And they don’t sell their message better than what’s already out there, making me wish they weren’t on this album.

First, “Talk You Out of It” is the “sexy song” of the album. It’s somewhat reminiscent of “Ride” by Chase Rice or Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road.” Why this song needs to be on the album, I do not know. When I come to listen to Florida Georgia Line, this just isn’t what I’m looking for.

Second, “Women” is perhaps the most egregious song inclusion on this album. It’s Florida Georgia Line’s take on the recent host of songs made by well-meaning male country artists thanking women for existing, in a way that comes across as patronizing and shallow. Even if they are bops, you’re not sure if you should sing along with them. Dierks Bentley’s “Woman, Amen” and Keith Urban’s “Female” are representative of this current trend, and both are far better than “Women.”

Finally, “People are Different” is the “everything is bad in the world right now, but people still have humanity and are good” song on the album. These are songs like “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw, “Most People are Good” by Luke Bryan and “Love Wins” by Carrie Underwood. It’s a decent song, but it just doesn’t stand out in the crowded field of songs that share this theme.

One song where Florida Georgia Line takes cues from established country music with great success is “Speed of Love.” This song feels like a throwback to 2000s country, with a rhythm and vocal tones reminiscent of Bentley’s 2003 song, “What Was I Thinkin’.” There were even moments where I felt like I could have been listening to “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” by Big & Rich. This was the highlight on the first half of the album for me.

“Can’t Say I Ain’t Country” really starts to pick up with the eighth track on the album, “Y’all Boys.” Despite the fact that this song’s title breaks my little grammatically correct heart, it’s a high energy song that really brings it to me.

This song is followed by “Small Town,” the traditional Florida Georgia Line song like “Dirt” and “May We All” that connects to rural life in an impactful way. For this reason, it is one of my favorite songs on the album.

“Can’t Hide Red” featuring Jason Aldean is another homage to country life, and “Sittin’ Pretty” has the potential to be a contender for song of the summer. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about “Colorado,” too, because who doesn’t appreciate a country song about weed and alcohol? Between Florida Georgia Line and Kacey Musgraves, marijuana’s transition into the world of mainstream country music may be eminent.

While there are a few more tracks on this album I could break down, you should listen to it yourself. Overall, despite a few glitches early on in the album, I would overwhelmingly recommend “Can’t Say I Ain’t Country.” Florida Georgia Line has long brought a unique voice to country music, and they continue to do that with this album.

Macy Davis is the culture editor for the Collegian and a senior in English. The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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Macy Davis
I'm Macy Davis, culture editor. I'm a senior studying English with a minor in mass communications and journalism. When I'm not reading and writing (both for class and for fun), I'm a member of the nationally ranked K-State speech team. After I graduate I plan on pursuing a graduate degree in library science.