Although there is already a long list of great albums that have been released this year, Southern Gravity, Kristian Bush’s first solo album apart from Sugarland, just may end up being the most pleasant surprise of 2015.
First of all, lets address some of the elephants in the room. Frankly, the biggest surprise of the album is the discovery that Kristian Bush can actually sing. Without the long shadow of the Powerhouse Jennifer Nettles, Bush has a chance to find his literal and figurative voice and it’s a good one.
Additionally, whether it was deserved or not, Bush had developed the reputation of being the intense, mysterious half of Sugarland. So, another surprise is that the album is relaxed and accessible and avoids drowning in over thinking or overproduction. With that said, the final surprise is that the album is more country than we had heard from Sugarland in quite some time.
You can almost predict if a single or even an album will be good or insufferable just by looking at the songwriting credits these days. If you look at the credits for Southern Gravity, it’s worth noting that names like Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins, et al are blessedly nowhere to be seen. Instead, among others, it’s refreshing to see the names of Paul Overstreet, Sherrie Austin and Bob DiPiero alongside Bush’s name. As a result of Bush’s good songwriting and co-writers instincts , we are treated to meaningful songs that explore love of love, love of fellow man and love of life.
Charming love songs such as “Make Another Memory”, “Light Me Up” and “Sending You a Sunset” reflect pure love and tenderness while love can also be found in more life reflective songs such as “Sweet Love”, “Southern Gravity” and “House on a Beach.”
Outside of romantic love, Southern Gravity‘s lead single, the fun “Trailer Hitch” promotes selfless love by wondering why everyone’s focus is to get rich rather than spreading around what they’ve already got. Similarly, Bush considers human decency in the refreshingly instructive “Walk Tall”: “we all walk tall in the daylight,/ We all walk tall when it feels right./ If you ever want to be a man,/ If you ever want to be a rebel,/ You gotta walk tall in the moonlight.”
While this album is far superior to having any bro country bravado on it, it’s not devoid of fun. Along with the aforementioned “Trailer Hitch”, humor is especially notable on the self-deprecating “Flip Flops.”
Ultimately, even with all of its substance, the album never feels heavy handed and has an easy vibe that allows Bush to explore an array of topics with ease and an open heart that reflects a thoughtful and compassionate spirit.
Recommended Tracks: “Trailer Hitch”, “Southern Gravity”, “Flip Flops”, “Sweet Love”, “House on a Beach”