It could be argued that had Jason Aldean not landed some chart-toppers with songs written by Brantley Gilbert, the Georgia native might not have had the chance to record this debut album. But after listening to A Modern Day Prodigal Son, it can be argued that talent this raw rarely flies under the radar for long. Right from the opening tune, “Freshman Year,” it’s obvious that Gilbert isn’t as interested in playing by Nashville’s rules as he is in writing the kinds of catchy country songs that fit his buttery tenor like a worked-in pair of blue jeans. “What’s Left of a Small Town” is white-picket-fence twang at its best, replete with a nostalgic narrative incorporating the bittersweet nod to the inevitability of change. “G.R.I.T.S.” (an acronym for Girls Raised in the South) reveals Gilbert’s admiration for strong women. The album’s title track is a gripping ballad where Gilbert’s confessional lyrics are accompanied by a less-is-more backing of guitar and piano, giving the song a stark feel and a clear window into the man’s vulnerability.