Track By Track Review: Thomas Rhett’s ‘Tangled Up’ Pushes The Boundaries Of Country Music

If country music was a cliff, Thomas Rhett walked to the edge and jumped off. Country has been running headlong into progressive sounds for awhile now, but Rhett, aside from Taylor Swift, is the first country artist to flat out say this album is going to be a little unusual. His love for Bruno Mars is loud and clear, along with some other hip-hop and Motown influences, but this is primarily a pop album.

Is it a good pop album? Not really. Is it good country album? Not really. Is it fun to listen to? Yeah, for the most part.

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“Anthem”

Lives up to the name. It’s the Friday night party anthem of the album. High energy, rocking guitars and clapping drum machines fit the mold of today’s progressive party song. Very Florida Georgia Line, not as good.

“Crash and Burn”

The debut single from ‘Tangled Up’ and reminiscent of that Motown sound Rhett was really digging for this album. Rhett isn’t known for being one of the strongest vocalists in country music, but he really pushes himself on this track. Props for that.

“South Side”

Skip it.

“Die a Happy Man”

The absolute best track on the album and brand new single. The song is beautiful and reflective of the strong marriage Rhett and his wife Lauren have. Imagine Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ with some slide guitar. It’s magic.

“Vacation”

Sounds so much like War’s ‘Lowrider’ that Rhett had to credit them as co-writers. I play it more than I’m willing to admit though. I’ve probably sang “put a little liquor in my coconut water” a million times. Just don’t watch that creepy ass music video.

“Like It’s the Last Time”

Another party like it’s the last day of human existence type of song. When I’m going to go out and drink my dad will tell me “take it easy, they’re not going to stop making it,” which is true. So I just find the “we’re gonna do it right and party like it’s the last time” kinda thing a little ridiculous and lacking in creativity.

“T-Shirt”

I like it. I don’t love it.

“Single Girl”

Aside from the fact that this track implies that all single girls are lonely, this is one of the stronger tracks on the album. It’s one of the more “country” tracks on the album and, consequently, also one of the most relatable. I feel like most guys have met a girl and thought “why are you single, you could be with me!” one time or another.

“The Day You Stop Looking Back”

Probably one of my other favorites on this album and definitely one of the few songs with some substance. Written by the super talented Jaren Johnston, this “moving on” song really hits hard on that struggle to let go of the past and look to the future. The singer is stuck on the sidelines hoping she will let this other guy go, which can be tough as well. We’ve all been on, at least one, side of this equation before.

“Tangled Up”

Sounds like a Maroon 5 song. Except Adam Levine does Maroon 5 a lot better.

“Playing With Fire (featuring Jordin Sparks)”

It’s a cliche “bad for you” relationship song, but Jordin Sparks provides a great complimentary vocal to Rhett’s. I have definitely heard better, but I do love a good guy/girl duet.

“I Feel Good (featuring Lunch Money Lewis)”

I like this track. It’s catchy, not country at all and has a rap verse in it from, guess what? An actual rapper. I get my head nodding a bit and I do actually feel good  when I crank it up. Think of it like eating McDonalds. You know it’s crap, but you kind of like it.

“Learned It From the Radio”

This reminds me a song I heard from The Cadillac Three awhile back, but I love the idea of it. Country music has shaped all of our lives in one way or another. I think that’s why we love it so much. Because it’s real, it’s about the lives we live. This song describes that perfectly.

“And all the DJs in all those little scattered towns / How to live / How to love / Everything I need to know / I learned it from the radio”

Conclusion:

‘Tangled Up’ is pretty much a tangled mess of genres and influences that Rhett finds inspiring. Unfortunately, as much as Rhett likes Bruno Mars, Timberlake and James Brown, he doesn’t have what it takes to pull it off. It’s Bruno Mars light. I like blending genres and experimenting with sounds. I am far from a traditional country Nazi and I love artists like Sam Hunt and Florida Georgia Line. But here’s why: It’s them, being them. It’s not a gimmick. It seems like Rhett is trying, key word being trying, to be a crossover pop artist and, although, he is taking dance lessons and everything, he is always going to be a poor man’s Justin Timberlake with a twang.

It’s got some fun tracks and I definitely don’t mind listening to it, but stay in your wheelhouse Thomas Rhett, Make country music.

Standout Tracks:

-Die A Happy Man

-Learned It From The Radio

-The Day You Stop Looking Back

-I Feel Good

Whiskey Riff is the most entertaining country site…ever.