Review Summary: If this is country, then get me the hell away from it forever.
Everyone has deep, dark secrets. Mine is that I don’t just tolerate the new wave of non-country country-pop
, but that I actually enjoy it. I like Taylor Swift (just a little, it’s not an obsession). Dan + Shay haven’t really written a bad song yet, according to me. Ask me how I feel about Kacey Musgraves. Then there’s Florida Georgia Line, who are massively popular despite the fact that I’ve never actually encountered another person who admits to enjoying them. Their last album, Dig Your Roots
, was a superb country-pop record that overflowed with hooks, charming country-ish twang, and accents of beautiful romanticism (just listen to ‘Island’). Yet, for as much as I tend to follow my whims and simply listen to what makes me feel good – regardless of musical reputation – I’m really struggling to wrap my head around Can’t Say I Ain’t Country
First of all, none of these songs are memorable. If Florida Georgia Line had anything going for them, it was their ability to craft a solid hook and then pair it with a melody that sticks. The closest thing resembling that skill is the single ‘Simple’, which suffers from a slight case of lyrical chuckleheadedness (“It's just that simple, S-I-M-P-L-E, simple as can be”). The whole album reeks of pretension, which is an odd thing to say about an inherently mediocre pop band, but their desperation to be viewed as Country-with-a-capital-C is as aggravating as it is distracting from the actual music. The album’s title would be a good joke if I thought they were kidding in the slightest (I can assure you they’re not), and the cover art of them standing inside a dirty barn wearing overalls is a meme waiting to happen. Oh, and then they adopt the idea of skits (a traditional hip-hop/rap element) and sprinkle four of them across the record’s bloated nineteen tracks, one of which features Jason Derulo. So much for one-hundred percent pure-bred country
Oh, right, the music. As I was saying, Can’t Say I Ain’t Country
offers little of substance lyrically and lacks the fundamental qualities of a strong pop record. For every few semi-enjoyable lazy day choruses that exist (‘Talk You Out Of It’, ‘People Are Different’), there are two or three times as many bland, trite melodies that have been heard before both within the band’s discography as well as outside of it, alongside ham-fisted attempts to invoke rural imagery like singing about John Deere tractors or feeling bad for “cussin’ on a Sunday.” One of the worst things a supposed “country” artist/band can do is shove lifestyle clichés down their listeners’ throats; why not write about something real, something actually going on in the lives of said artist or perhaps events/experiences that people can relate to？Even Taylor Swift gets that. And if these are the real life experiences of Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, then I feel very sorry for them.
Can’t Say I Ain’t Country
is an amalgamation of country-pop’s worst features. It’s country without the grit or emotion; pop without any of the fun or hooks. I do suppose that lifelong Florida Georgia Line fans will find something to latch onto here, but as a closet fan of the genre – with no allegiance to any particular band – I can say with confidence that this album is a dud. Country-pop junkies, get your fix elsewhere.