View the original review at: http://www.countryweekly.com/reviews/tailgates-tanlines-luke-bryan
Luke Bryan has come a long way from his 2007 debut album, I’ll Stay Me. Not only have his songwriting and song choices become more mature, so has his voice. With more depth and texture, which can only be cultivated through night after night of performing, Luke’s voice has developed a richer tone than that exhibited on his earlier releases, and it serves him well on Tailgates & Tanlines.
Now, that doesn’t mean that he’s forgotten how to have a good time, like he did on his debut single, “All My Friends Say.” In fact, the lead single from Tailgates, “Country Girl (Shake It for Me),” takes it up a notch—its thumping bass line and laughing banjo are nothing but a good time!
However, “Country Girl” is the lightest tune on the album in regard to content. While “I Don’t Want This Night to End” is essentially about a one-night stand, the lyric is deliciously and confidently sexy. And on the other end of that relationship spectrum is the heartbroken “I Know You’re Going to Be There,” in which Luke sings from the point of view of a man agonizing over that run-in with an ex not long enough after a breakup, when it's too soon for the healing to have begun.
Luke tips his hat heartily to his Georgia upbringing, whether it’s through working with the Peach Pickers writing team—Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins and Ben Hayslip—or an anthem to a hometown landmark, “Muckalee Creek Water.” But he also offers a compelling insight into the plight of an alcoholic in the Erin Enderlin/Shane McAnally cut “You Don’t Know Jack.”
In “I Knew You That Way,” written by Jay Clementi and Radney Foster, he lays a tender tenor with a warm vibrato across a picturesque lyric that’s as comforting as a porch swing. And he never loses that touch of South Georgia drawl that has endeared him to fans.
Whether it was a conscious decision or just happenstance, Tailgates seems to be positioning Luke for headlining shows and superstar status.