Experiment Extended

Experiment Extended

Kane Brown didn’t set out to change the complexion of the country charts by becoming a mixed-race Nashville sensation with his self-titled 2016 debut. He was just out to share his take on the music he’d grown up loving. But once he became a Platinum-selling country star, he stepped up and owned it. Brown’s voice was already as big as all outdoors to begin with, but on 2018’s Experiment, that down-home baritone comes across with just a bit more swagger and a dash more gravitas. Brown takes the opportunity to stretch his wings a bit, both musically and lyrically. His debut album had mostly stayed in the center lane of contemporary country, with the occasional touch of R&B that had become de rigueur in the Music City mainstream. But on Experiment, some of the influences he had only hinted at get their day in the sun. Slamming beats and power chords come to the fore on multiple tunes, revealing the rocker in Brown. And the bluesy, hooky “Short Skirt Weather” (which charted despite somehow not being chosen as a single) could have come from one of the Brooks & Dunn records in his childhood home that had seeped so deeply into his bones. Autobiography had surfaced on Brown’s debut album with “Learning,” a true-life tale of childhood tribulations. He doubles down on the truth-telling here, whether he’s giving us a glimpse of his inner life or sharing his unvarnished view of what he sees around him. The former pops up in “For My Daughter,” a bonus track added to the album’s extended version, where Brown tells his little girl how his having grown up without a father makes him all the more resolved to be a good one himself. And the latter leaps in on the album’s heaviest hitter, “American Bad Dream.” On October 1, 2017, Brown left the Route 91 Harvest country-music festival in Las Vegas just before the horrific shooting that claimed 60 lives. The song forthrightly delivers his take on modern-day gun violence without giving a damn what the right-leaning portion of the country audience thinks about it.

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