Okay, now can we all agree that Luke Bryan has some actual talent?
Bryan has been the poster boy for everything that is wrong with country music in the last six or seven years, and considering the vapid, objectifying, booze-soaked party anthems that litter his discography (“County Girl (Shake It For Me),” “That’s My Kind Of Night,” “Kick The Dust Up,” etc.), he certainly deserved some of the criticism. Occasionally, however, Bryan will drop a track that reminds us that there’s some substance behind his style, and I’d argue that “Fast,” the sixth single off of his latest album Kill The Lights, is one of those tracks.
Production-wise, “Fast” eschews the bombastic beat-driven production of Bryan’s usual hip-shakers in favor of something more muted and acoustic-driven. There are still some synthetic elements included in the mix, but they stay in the background and allow the guitars to carry the melody. The song moves at a slow, methodical pace (much slower than you expect from a song called “Fast”) and creates a reflective atmosphere that gives the listener time and space to reflect on the lyrics of the song.
Thankfully, unlike a lot of Bryan’s songs, the lyrics of “Fast” are actually worth reflecting on. The track covers the time-honored trope of time itself, and alternates between celebrating the good times and lamenting that those times aren’t meant to last. In a sense, “Fast” is a blend of Kenny Chesney’s 2007 hit “Don’t Blink” and Brad Paisley’s current single “Today,” and while the words themselves aren’t exactly groundbreaking, they flow well and effectively convey the song’s sentiment.
While Bryan’s voice is often overshadowed by his on-stage dancing and the subject matter of his songs, he’s actually a smooth, charismatic singer, and he delivers a strong performance on “Fast.” His tone alternates between reflection and resignation, and he makes the listener believe he is remembering the good times right along with them.
In releasing this song as a single, Bryan seems to be confronting his own uncertain future in country music. Party anthems are falling out favor as the genre adapts to its post-Stapleton reality, a change that puts Bryan’s A-list status in jeopardy. “Fast,” therefore, serves a dual purpose for Bryan, letting him acknowledge that his time in the spotlight will eventually end while demonstrating that he’s still a force to be reckoned with. His reign will end someday, but today is not that day.
Overall, “Fast” is the best song I’ve heard from Luke Bryan in a long time. Given how successfully the man can pivot from the Metro-Bro sounds of the last few years to the more-traditional sounds of 2016, I don’t think he has to worry about his career ending too “Fast.”
Rating: 7/10. Wow, a 7 for both Bryan and Jason Aldean? Maybe country music is shifting in a better direction after all…