1. Track List (40)

Rhett balances super pop with truck and beer swilling throwback

taylor
Written by taylor
/ 4 mins read

Thomas Rhett’s last album, 2015’s Tangled Up, pushed back heavily on convention, and while he solidified his younger fan base, his pop-heavy approach on most of the tracks surely rubbed more traditionally Country fans the wrong way. It is clearer on Life Changes that Rhett may be aiming to please multiple generations without losing his clear attraction to new sounds and concepts, and for this, he is a superior artist now with a superior album,

Country Pop best works when it aims higher

Motoring Pop takes over Country on Thomas Rhett’s pretty solid and polished album Life Changes. Hitting play on this experience, you instantly know that the tracks on whole are going to be entertaining and accessible – starting with the excitement of Craving You, a club ready dance track that borrows the best the scene has to offer while minimizing the drawl which can feel out of touch with such modernity. Rhett sings in a manner interchangeable with any male Pop star outside of Country, and here, he approaches the stylistic freedom Keith Urban enjoys.

The balancing of old and new is exemplified by father and son duet

Drink a Little Beer is a special number that Thomas Rhett shares with his famous father Rhett Akins, and the results are surprising, as the boot stopping anthem is really at a stylistic center point between senior’s day and contemporary tastes. In unison, they sing hooks like “yeah, we're gonna drink a little beer / play a little music / and have a big time tonight / a bunch of down home boys and some blue jean girls / kicking up the dirt and shooting out the lights.” Though a generation apart, the team here looks and sounds close in age and spirit. A track such as this really recalls the jubilant fun of the nineties, aiming to not be too complicated to sing along to.

It’s not a country album without a wedding song

Marry Me lyrics start off typically, describing wedding plans that we assume include Rhett, though a twist begins to brew, as during the hook he sings, “I'll do a strong shot of whiskey straight out the flask”, revealing the ultimately tragic scenario; “yes, she wanna get married / but she don't wanna marry me.” With so many wedding songs on the market, it is actually refreshing to hear one wedding song that you absolutely can’t play on such a special day. This is a pretty pop melody that tricks you into feeling butterflies, then sticks the knife in, instantly morphing the same balladic chords into somber ones, purely through clever wordplay.

A pretty fail proof album closes strong.

The last three tracks ensure a great album ends on some high, diverse notes. Renegades explores the cliché of a rich girl falling for a poor boy, narrated by the adventurous young man who tempts her to cut the chord; “so what we cause a little trouble / so what we don't sleep tonight / baby, I promise you your daddy's gon' be alright / gonna be alright.” The heavy beat and soaring guitars are a perfect soundtrack for young lovers breaking the rules. Then on Gateway Love, the tempo slows down slightly, yet the beat is even more creative, thanks to Rhett’s clever mixing of tender balladry and reggae fusion – a somber yet sexy track which could convince the die hard R&B fan to groove to its powerful pulse. Finally, Rhett shows us how everlasting love can be, with the heart-warming Grave, an arena ballad that has big overdubbed harmonies which express his love for his woman will be the same, even after he has passed to the other side.

It’s Easy To Surrender To The Good Times, Sincerity, Rock, And Psuedo Funk Of “It Goes Like This” By Thomas Rhett

taylor
Written by taylor
/ 6 mins read

I want to believe. I want to join in. I want to have a blast. Yes, sometimes, even a hyper analytical mind like mine (not bragging – overthinking things has been a burden of late) needs to just detach from being so critical of music and people and movements and politics – and just surrender oneself to good times – like those found on this debut album from a Country Pop star known for his boundary pushing music – it’s time for Thomas Rhett and his freshman effort It Goes Like This. Here are pop arrangements to bounce along with and definitely shoot some whisky to, ranging in style from rock n roll to trap music to funky club grooves. And yeah, he raps like a fool on “Front Porch Junkies (Remix)”, but it is quite intentional and is definitely on some Kid Rock shit – I can hear the joint’s spiritual cousin in “Cowboy.” It seems that whatever Rhett has on his mind, he goes for, unafraid of how audiences will react to the variety of sounds per album. I should know, having tried to understand his place in Country music over the last years by listening to a couple of his more recent albums – but this is where it all started, and to my surprise, he has always been experimenting with various genres while presenting tracks that the Everyman can also clap along to.

The Sound Of Exaggerated Energy Is Surprisingly Fun To Hear

There are 12 tracks here on It Goes Like This which lean most of all towards power pop rock with an obvious country twang peppered in where it matters. “Whatcha Got In That Cup” is a howling good time with heavy dance drumming, electric fiddles and rhythm banjo, and ultra archetypical vocalizations where every single word is roughed up, pitched up, and accented in a cartoonish manner – yet this latter element works here because the song is supposed to be a little tongue in cheek amidst all of the exciting instrumentation. The character here teases a girl by asking her what type of alcohol she has brought to the party, since it is so strong that it is already making the singer drunk – hence, the fun-loving drunkard voice and the high level of confidence he displays – inviting her to join him whenever the next slow dance comes on. These epic sounding times continue with “Something To Do With My Hands”, which has killer twangy singing, going for high noted harmonies and again a roughing up of the timbre which perfectly matches the style of the electric guitars. I guess this is what you could call outlaw music – and I am most happy here that every moment really sounds authentic, without any corny missteps, which is always a potential consequence of new generation artists trying to emulate sounds from the past but not really doing the ample research or thinking about the consequence of melody enough. Examples of this that come to mind are Florida Georgia Line, whose Country Rock sounds so forced to me. Not so with Rhett – and while I have heard him do some silly shit on other albums, in general, he has immense capacity to play great, straight forward party Rock such as the songs mentioned here, and any clowning around with the phrasing seems to add to the jubilation, rather than take away from it.

Three Hip Ballads In A Row Show Modern And Diverse Sensibilities From Rhett

While I’m not one who cares very much for when Country Pop stars say arbitrary stuff like “and it goes like…hey….and it sounds like….mmhmmm”, I find myself cutting Thomas Rhett tons of slack when he says a hook like this one on “It Goes Like This” for some reason – maybe he is charming to hear and maybe I am swept up in the promise of fun and love and easy going times. Here, he lets the instrument riff be ‘the answer’ to what it sounds like when his lady and him hook up – the sound of the song that he bases on her. Borderline corny, but Rhett manages to win me over, because I can hear such happiness and honesty in his voice. Two more preferred ballads are “Get Me Some Of That” and “Call Me Up”, with the former containing every type of urban meets country boy slang combo imaginable, and sounding, again, kind of funny but also because of the sincerity, kinda sweet – even if on paper, the lyrics are pretty corny “you're shakin' that money maker / like a heart breaker, like your college major was / twistin' and tearin' up Friday nights / love the way you're wearin' those jeans so tight (so tight).” “Call Me Up” is the best of the ballads here, thanks to a great backbeat, and some of my favorite notes on the whole album – plus what’s more, Rhett is at his most creative with a sing-talk cadence here, where many artists who attempt this style fail for lack of ‘cool.’ Where they would just string together a bunch of swiftly delivered one liners, Rhett adds lots of off kilter phrasing and emotion and different vocal note progressions – going I feel for some soulful pseudo Prince moments that grab my attention.

Not Only Does Rhett Rock, But He Sho Nuff Can Funk

The most traditional song on the album by far is the last number “Beer With Jesus”, whose actual content could rub a couple pious people the wrong way, yet upon closer listening inspection, it is all about praising Rhett’s savior – as the ‘beer with Jesus’ notion is more about Thomas Rhett asking his close buddy “Jesus” in a bar setting why he never gave up on him all this time? Real old fashioned instrumentals here that warm my soul, and then there’s plenty of other tracks that Rock both traditionally and in a contemporary sense, such as; “In A Minute”, “Take You Home”, and especially the crashing Indie folk waltz of apologetic “Sorry For Partyin’”, with great and comedic lyrics such as “for anyone gettin' caught by a camera phone with your pants off / I'm sorry for partying and Bacardi'n.” Love all these songs, but I really get down to the funky rhythm and designs on surprising standout jam “All-American Middle Class White Boy” with its cool wonky guitar effects plus intense explosive measures which sonically represent the dual identity of country boy and city boy. The other, even funkier song is the R&B influenced dance number “Make Me Wanna”, with syncopated organ, disco rhythm and high levels of romantic dance floor Soul. I could easily play a song such as this with some Michael Jackson, Robin Thicke, and especially Justin Timberlake, as the track certainly has some chord progression similarities to “Suit & Tie.”

3. Official (17)

4. Audio (38)

5. Live (8)

6. Featuring Remixes (2)

7. Albums (8)

8. News (10)

9. Covers (87)

11. Similar Artists (16)

12. Artist Info

About

Thomas Rhett Akins Jr. (born March 30, 1990) is an American country music singer and songwriter. His father is the singer Rhett Akins. Rhett has released three studio albums for Big Machine Records' Valory Music imprint: It Goes Like This (2013), Tangled Up (2015), and Life Changes (2017). These albums have produced seventeen singles on the Hot Country and Country Airplay charts, with twelve reaching the No. 1 position on the latter: "It Goes Like This", "Get Me Some of That", "Make Me Wanna", "Crash and Burn", "Die a Happy Man", "T-Shirt", "Star of the Show", "Craving You", "Unforgettable", "Marry Me", "Life Changes", and "Sixteen". In addition to much of his own material, Rhett has written singles for Jason Aldean, Lee Brice, Florida Georgia Line, LoCash and Michael Ray among others.
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Born

    1990-03-30

Active

    2010–present

Label

  • Valory