The title Crash My Party alone is a tip-off that Luke Bryan is quite comfortable residing within the party-hearty persona he's slowly crafted over the course of five years -- ever since he started his pivot away from the traditional country of his 2007 debut. Looking back, it's hard to believe Bryan ever could've been pegged as a possible neo ...
The title Crash My Party alone is a tip-off that Luke Bryan is quite comfortable residing within the party-hearty persona he's slowly crafted over the course of five years -- ever since he started his pivot away from the traditional country of his 2007 debut. Looking back, it's hard to believe Bryan ever could've been pegged as a possible neo-traditionalist, a singer/songwriter who penned much of his own material and seemed intent on injecting a modicum of twang within his songs. Nowadays, after racking up happy hits like "Rain Is a Good Thing" and "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)," and cannily carving out a position as the country version of James Franco's Alien singing unironic red-state "Spring Break Forever" anthems for booze-soaked bros and gals, Luke Bryan doesn't seem like he ever once bothered with the backwood. With its sly Auto-Tune, diluted hip-hop rhythms, nods to T.I., and rivers of beer, Crash My Party surely doesn't feel as if it belongs to country, not even when Bryan is wooing his paramour with promises of a catfish dinner, and part of that is due to just how darn friendly Luke seems. No matter how many six-packs he sings about swinging or how many parties he crashes, Bryan just doesn't seem like a macho man. He seems like a nice guy, the kind of dude who would never down drinks til dawn, the kind of guy who would grow on a girl, not the one who would swagger over with seduction on his mind. Crash My Party is filled with songs reliant on the idea that Bryan is a blue-collar baller, so fratty that he rhapsodizes about his "Blood Brothers" and wistfully remember when he and his crew used to run their small town. If Bryan had a voice etched in gravel, perhaps all this would seem like too much barrel-chested boasting, but as he sings in a voice flat and friendly as the plains, all his celebrations seem cheerful. Bryan, at least for now, has given up the idea of writing his own songs and has chosen material that's either hard and hooky or soft and sentimental, giving them all productions that gleam in unrelenting sunshine. Under the guidance of producer Jeff Stevens, Bryan sneakily incorporates all manners of modern sounds -- not enough to distract but enough to make an impression, particularly in how the rhythms suggests pop and dance, how Bryan's flow can mimic hip-hop without rapping, and those little Auto-Tune flourishes pop up throughout -- which also doesn't make the singer seem particularly country, but he does seem savvy; like somebody who embraces what real redneck living is about in 2013. [A Deluxe Edition was also released.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi