Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

Brooks & Dunn ft. Luke Combs – Brand New Man

Pop of 1991, to two decimal places…


Katie Gill: The Elton John Revamp & Restoration project caught people’s attention because established musicians were putting their own sound on Elton John songs. The Killers cover sounded undoubtedly like the Killers, the Willie Nelson cover sounded like Willie, and the Ed Sheeran cover, unfortunately, sounded like Ed Sheeran. It showed just how much of a good songwriter Elton John was that each artist was able to put their own sound to his songs. An album of reworked Brooks & Dunn songs should give the same effect. Brooks & Dunn are a classic country duo for a reason — their songs are just THAT GOOD. And though country radio might say otherwise, there are certainly enough sounds in modern country and folk music that there’s potential here. A Kane Brown song doesn’t sound like a Kacey Musgraves song doesn’t sound like a Brothers Osborne song. But the problem is that Luke Combs doesn’t HAVE a sound. He doesn’t bring anything to the song except for a vocal line and a sense that really, he’s just happy to be here, he’s singing with Brooks & Dunn, y’all! And this isn’t a full cover: Brooks & Dunn are singing as well. So what you have is a classic Brooks & Dunn song that’s re-recorded, sounds slightly modernized, is a little bit busier, and that’s it. If this song is going to change so little, what’s to stop people from listening to the original instead?

Alfred Soto: Alas, I missed B&D during their remunerative decade-plus run; now I’m playing catch-up to their tautly observed and well-sung ballads, Tim McGraw without the blarney. However, I don’t hear the point of a “Brand New Man” cover other than to make money off it again. Luke Combs, step the fuck off.

David Sheffieck: This is extremely unnecessary, but kinda cute about it. Luke Combs — and modern country, for better and worse — don’t exist without Brooks & Dunn, and hearing him duet with them is a fun reminder that they had some real jams and a long shadow. But it’s also a reminder that music production isn’t a linear evolution. Layering the guitars thick and the handclaps thicker don’t make this pop more than the original nearly three decades ago, but it does manage to scribble over the hooks that made it so irresistible to begin with.

Thomas Inskeep: B&D crank up the guitars (and drums) on this rework of their first-ever hit single (#1 back in 1991), and Combs fits in perfectly with his gritty, twangy vocals. I actually prefer this to the original, as it’s got more heft to it. Play it loud.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: More or less the same as the 1991 original, this new version of “Brand New Man” throws in some arena-friendly drums and Luke Combs to ensure a more robust sound. Because of this, the chorus can fire out the gate and have its energy sustain the entirety of the song. The biblical imagery doesn’t hold up as well — woman-as-savior metaphors are both tired and unsavory — but it almost doesn’t matter when it’s all so spirited.

Iris Xie: “Oh how I used to roam / I was a rolling stone” is a cute image, and these singers actually sound happy and believe in what they are singing. The energy continually pumps and amps up with the driving dynamics. But what I don’t understand is how all that energy gets sublimated into a neat, unfussy song that seems indistinguishable to me. Even though it’s about being a “Brand New Man,” it just makes me wonder what was left behind in the process of becoming this person.

Reader average: No votes yet!

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

Leave a Reply