Does Brett Young have a hype train yet? ‘Cause if he does, I’d like to buy a ticket.
I’ve noticed a real influx of soul into the country genre lately, with several impressive crooners fighting their way into the spotlight (Brett Eldredge, Chris Stapleton, Drake White) and other non-soulful singers releasing slow-groove tracks to jump on the trend (Keith Urban’s “Blue Ain’y Your Color,” for example). Young is the latest example of the former category, but his debut #2 hit “Sleep Without You” had more of a Metropolitan sound to it than a slow, sexy vibe. “In Case You Didn’t Know,” on the other hand, shows Young embracing the soul train wholeheartedly, with impressive results.
The production on this track is surprisingly minimal and even-more-surprisingly acoustically-based, with the melody being driven (and driven well) by…a dobro?! When was the last time a dobro got to do anything this extensive on mainstream radio. The combination of the dobro, piano, and drums set a relaxing-yet-sensual mood for the song, and provide just enough energy to keep the song from feeling slow or plodding. The one critique I have here is that the synthetic beats used feel jarring and out of place amidst all the real instruments.
Thematically, “In Case You Didn’t Know” is reminiscent of Toby Keith’s “Me Too,” where the singer talks about his struggle to convey his feelings to their partner. However, unlike Keith’s song, where the singer has to piggyback off of their partner’s words to express their emotion, the singer here show the strength and maturity to overcome their reticence and tell their partner exactly how they feel. The lyrics are the usual touchy-feely stuff, but they’re more about emotional needs and not the literal touching and feeling that we’ve come to expect from modern country songs.
Young himself has a soulful voice more along the lines of Eldredge than Stapleton and White, and his songs seem to have a more modern vibe than the retro stylings of the latter two singers. He exhibits enough charisma to sell what he’s singing, and his vocal tones enhance the romantic tone of the song immensely. He seems to be building a ‘sensual but thoughtful’ image will his material that meshes well the ‘sexy hunk’ image his management team seems to want to build. (Granted, I haven’t listened to the rest of Young’s EP, but you can bet I’ll be reviewing his debut album when it drops in February.)
Overall, “In Case You Didn’t Know” is a fantastic song, and only makes me more interested in hearing more from Brett Young. He just missed #1 on the Billboard charts with “Sleep Without You,” but I’ll bet this song will pick up where “Sleep” left off, grab that #1 slot, and build even more momentum for Young’s upcoming album.
Rating: 8/10. Definitely give this song a listen.