American Heartbreak

American Heartbreak

Country music has a long-held tradition of narrative music, though the commercial side of the genre has strayed away from such character- and story-driven songs in recent years. Zach Bryan is here to change that, though, on his sprawling, ambitious triple album American Heartbreak. Across 34 tracks, the Navy veteran and cult favorite envisions bull riders, long-lost lovers, wandering road warriors, and more, telling their stories over simple arrangements and with an emotionally potent voice that recalls Tyler Childers or early Jason Isbell. “There's plenty of characters on American Heartbreak—some of them I know, some of them I don't,” Bryan tells Apple Music. “Sometimes I'm just in a breakfast place and I see someone doing something and I'm like, ‘It'd be crazy if that person was a bull rider.’ And then I'm like, ‘Oh wait—that would be a cool story.’” Album highlights include the massively successful “Something in the Orange,” which crackles with brooding intrigue, and “From Austin,” a heartbreak song that avoids the tropes and clichés of similar country tracks in favor of more poetic lines like “Babe, I’ve gotta heal myself from the things I’ve never felt.”

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