Thomas Rhett is one of the newer artists leading the charge in what is being considered the great merge in the pop and country music industry. He is a musician and songwriter who released two albums in partnership with Big Machine Records: “It Goes Like This” and the original version of “Tangled Up.” The songs on his updated album “Tangled Up (Deluxe)” have landed him on the top of the charts where his hits sit alongside his idols Tim McGraw and Brooks & Dunn.
Thomas Rhett is said to draw from the many different musical elements he enjoyed as a child, ranging from rhythm and blues to pop to rock and the oldies. The revised version of his second album release “Tangled Up,” which was originally released in 2015, has a rich and upbeat sound encompassing all of the above genres. The album is said to include “party anthems, dance tunes, drinking songs, love ballads and everything in between, all tied together by a dynamic singer who’s unafraid to blur the lines between genres,” according to the artist’s website. The question this poses is, with all this mixing of music types, can we still consider this to be a country album?
There are some obvious favorites on this album, considering how many great singles have been released prior to the debut of “Tangled Up (Deluxe).” These are “Die a Happy Man” and “Crash and Burn.” I’m going to turn my attention to a few lesser known hits on the album, starting with a more recent radio favorite, “Vacation.”
“Vacation” is a song that begs for a good time. If you’re not in a good mood before this song comes on, then you certainly will be after. What’s less certain about this song is what genre it is. Popular opinion may say otherwise, but my stance is that this is not really a country song. This is a genre mix-up and if anyone has a more precise take on it, please let me know.
In my mind, “Background Music” can’t be considered country, either. This is all some variation of jazzy rhythm and techno grooves.
“Single Girl” is not what I considered the highlight of this album. Thomas Rhett’s serenade to the single girls out there serves as a reminder of teenage dreams. It’s cute and cheesy, but not really my style.
This next song includes one of my favorite up-and-coming female artists, Danielle Bradbery. “Playing With Fire,” a song that tells a struggling love story, does not do the duo justice. The background instrumentals block out a lot of the strength of their vocals, especially Bradbery’s. This song, along with “Like the Last Time,” has rock influence; “Playing With Fire” less so. “Like the Last Time” sounds like something Luke Bryan might sing.
I have and will always consider Thomas Rhett to be a great artist and songwriter. His experimentation and construction of rhythm and lyrics is very skillful and fun. He is definitely breaking into this new era of music with ease along with artists like Sam Hunt and Brett Eldredge. The only concern I have is that we may lose him to any number of alternative genres as we did Taylor Swift. He draws from a lot of influences, including country, in “Tangled Up (Deluxe),” but as much as some might say he is devoted to the genre, country is not his only musical foundation.