The rise of Thomas Rhett has been pretty incredible to watch. The singer-songwriter released his debut album It Goes Like This in 2013 and he scored three number one singles from it – It Goes Like This, Get Me Some of That and Make Me Wanna. Building on that success Rhett released his second album Tangled Up in 2015, which added another four number 1s to his tally and was certified Platinum in the US. The commercial performance of Tangled Up catapulted Rhett into the big league making him an arena headliner able to sell out shows across the world.
Of course with success comes criticism and Rhett has had traditional Country music lovers up in arms claiming that he’s a pop artist not a Country artist. Actually he’s one of the new breed of Country artists that are bringing something fresh and new to the genre and achieving crossover success in the process. Recent single Craving You featuring Maren Morris is a case in point as it’s performed strongly on the Country charts and the Billboard 100.
Life Changes, Rhett’s third album, continues his path to cross-genre superstar. Like Tangled Up, Life Changes is pretty schizophrenic when it comes to its sound. Following the poppy Craving You, Unforgettable is an acoustic ballad with a radio-friendly chorus that shows the sensitive side of Rhett, which has served him well considering his biggest hit to date was Die a Happy Man. Drink a Little Beer embraces bro-country and features Rhett’s father Rhett Akins, who is a country singer and songwriter in his own right. The last minute of the song is a bluegrass banjo-fuelled instrumental which Rhett and Akins exchange banter over.
Elsewhere on the record Rhett gets romantic for sure-fire future smash Marry Me, incorporates EDM into Leave Right Now, and embraces his traditional Country roots on the catchy When You Look Like That. Sweetheart features a 50s melody that recalls Blue Moon, and Kiss Me Like a Stranger is a soulful midtempo moment that showcases a completely different side to Rhett.
One of the strongest tracks is one of the most surprising; Gateway Love. The rhythmic track is almost R&B and it allows Rhett to show off his falsetto. It sounds like nothing else on the record and it’s a damn catchy tune. The album comes to an end with Grave, a song about everlasting love that I can already imagine being played at thousands of weddings in the near future.
Quite honestly if you’ve never been a fan of Rhett’s, Life Changes isn’t going to change your mind and actually it’ll probably reinforce the reasons he’s not your cup of tea. If however you’re open to a modern poppier twist on the genre then you’ll love everything about it. Rhett makes no apologies for pushing the boundaries of modern Country, nor should have to. Life Changes is the next step in his plan for world domination.
Track listing: 1. Craving You (feat Maren Morris) 2. Unforgettable 3. Sixteen 4. Drink a Little Beer (feat Rhett Akins) 5. Marry Me 6. Leave Right Now 7. Smooth Like the Summer 8. Life Changes 9. When You Look Like That 10. Sweetheart 11. Kiss Me Like a Stranger 12. Renegades 13. Gateway Love 14. Grave Record Label: Big Machine Records Release Date: 8th September 2017