BRELAND’S NEW ALBUM, CROSS COUNTRY, GIVES COUNTRY MUSIC A NEW TWIST – A FULL REVIEW OF THE 14-TRACK PLAYLIST

“My Truck” Platinum breakout artist Breland, has just released his uniquely-inclusive debut studio album, Cross Country, compelling listeners to see the Country music genre from a different perspective. Branded by Rolling Stone as “the symbol of Country music’s ongoing evolution,” Breland has continuously proved his worth as a Country/Pop/Hip-Hop artist with his seamless fusion of each genre. Recognized by CMT Crossroads, Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, TODAY, The Kelly Clarkson Show, New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash and performances on the ACM, CMT, and CMA Awards, Breland has quickly distinguished himself from other artists in the industry. In fact, Breland has gone above and beyond with this album release.

Breland starts the first track of the Cross Country album strong with “Here For It” featuring Ingrid Andress, by creating a feel-good and upbeat melody. The supportive energy and theme of dependability and safety name specifics you don’t usually hear with the lyrics, “Or if you wanna have a dead sober / Head shoulder, cry it out kind of night / You know I’m good for it.” 

The CMA Awards Musical Event of the Year (“Beers On Me” – Dierks Bentley with BRELAND & HARDY) nominee then cranks it up a notch with “The County Line,” by incorporating a rap and Country-Pop sound. The song starts with an ’80s feel and transitions to the hip-hop genre, giving a unique appeal to the song instantly. This light-hearted, down-home, Country-Pop track with a mix of hip-hop and 80’s background music is the perfect brew you never knew you needed.

As if Breland hasn’t already mashed up the perfect genre blend, his third track, “Praise The Lord” gives off the best church-choir energy, praising the Lord for all his blessings. Featuring pronounced Country artist, Thomas Rhett, “Praise The Lord” will have you two-stepping and clapping your hands to Breland’s buoyant Gospel tune, truly creating a song for every walk in the diverse Cross Country album.

Breland picks up right where he left off with the same upbeat, feel-good theme and a music video to match with “Natural.” In this song, Breland is praising God in a different way–for the all-natural beauty queens from the south. We’re loving the feminism vibes with, “She’s an ice-cold natty / She drink like her daddy / And when she gets the night off she dance her heels off / She southern and sassy / A barbecue baddie / But she can put a tire on and I want to take her down / Don’t need a filter the way that she built it’ll blow your mind / She’s an actual, natural, back-it-up country girl” This one’s for all the girls who are unapologetically themselves – Breland’s “here for it!” Fun fact: OG Shania Twain helped write this one.

The middle of the album is one that resonates with us all: heartbreak. Lady A features Breland’s next song, “Told You I Could Drink,” a post-breakup song about running into your ex while talking of the broken and drunken nights that followed. Though this song is more somber than the previous, Breland still manages to make it catchy and fitting for the message–one that follows in the next couple of songs as well.

“For What It’s Worth” is another breakup song, though differing in its depth and vulnerability. Breland humbly sings about self-reflection and hope toward a future with the love he lost. The music video also features the most prominent African American Professional Bull Rider, Ezekiel Mitchell – where he is the main focus of the story along with digital creator and copywriter, Kylen Chen-Troester. Upon meeting one another for the music video, Breland and Mitchell realized how much they could relate to their opposite’s story, Mitchell stating: 

“My cousin’s daughter loved ‘My Truck,’ and I’ve listened to that song a million times plus ten. BRELAND is an African American artist thriving in a genre not particularly dominated by African Americans — a parallel to my career, I guess you could say. It’s just really cool to be involved in this project, and everyone was incredible to work with. I sincerely appreciate being part of it, and I hope it helps to continue to push PBR into the mainstream.”

Ezekiel Mitchell

Breland also comments on the parallels between himself and the No. 1 Austin Gamblers competitor, explaining,

“Before shooting the music video, I had only peripherally been aware of PBR and wouldn’t have been able to imagine what these athletes endure in the spirit of competition,” explains BRELAND. “Learning about Ezekiel and his unusual path to PBR instantly reminded me of myself and the bridges I’m trying to build within Country music. I loved the filming process because I mostly just got to enjoy a thrilling new sport, but I also got to know an incredible young talent that is shifting people’s perception of bull riding. I’m excited to see where and how our paths cross again, but grateful to have such a budding star like Zeke represented in this video.”

Breland

Breland delivers his next, “Happy Song,” to an audience where everyone can relate, but not in the way you would think. “Happy Song” is an ironically a blue tune about “the song” shared between partners, until it became a sad reminder of the love he lost: “The song we used to dance to / One we used to drink to / One that used to keep us out after four / It hit so different when I was yours / Our song ain’t a happy song anymore.” 

Venturing from breakup songs to reassurance in growth, “Growing Pains” is about knowing that everything will be okay despite life’s circumstances. When you’re down in the trenches but don’t want to listen to your typical slow songs, this one still has a great tempo and rhythm for keeping your spirits up despite the mood. If this track isn’t for you, “Throw It Back” is sure to be a favorite, being one of Breland’s first popular singles released and adding a trendy, new twist to country music for everyone to enjoy.

Featuring Keith Urban, the catchy lyrics of “Throw It Back” are seared into the brain after just one listen. The clever play on words is especially displayed in the “Throw It Back” music video, where Breland has the enchanted ability to get a “re-do” with each girl he flirts with at a country bar. As it’s probably the most energetic and popular song on the tracklist, this combination of Hip-Hop and Country music slays any preferred genre.

The tenth track on the Amazon Music Breakthrough Artist’s album gives major Lizzo vibes and even gives her a shoutout, as Breland emphasizes all the thick girls out there to embrace the curves and love your body because he sure does: “I like ’em down south, ATL to Texas / Them the ones I mess with, never miss a breakfast / Dang I want her so bad, she a whole snack / And this ain’t no cap, ’cause everybody know I like ’em / Thick thick thick thick thicker than some salt and pepper” In other words, eat the cake.

Having the same title of its album, “Cross Country” featuring Mickey Guyton, seems to be a more intimate look into Breland’s life, yet a song that everyone can relate to– a song about finding your place in the world. Finding your people can be arduous but Breland writes about chasing his dreams, even if they’re not accepted. The thesis? Don’t let other people decide for you–do you boo, the world is at your fingertips.

The next song on the track is a personal favorite. “Good For You” has an easy-listening melody that breaks your heart in all the best ways. Its vulnerable, thought-provoking, and intimate lyrics resonate with this perfectionist, as it details all the things he succeeds in, and yet fails over and over again at love;

“But tell me, what good is being good at everything / If I’m no good at loving you / And what good is doing everything I’ve ever done / If I never did what I promised to / ‘Cause now I know being good ain’t good enough / If I never was that good for you / And darling if moving on is what you want then go on / Good for you”

The last few tracks of Cross Country have a playful and seductive theme, both intimate and romantic songs that bring the album home with Breland’s affectionate side. “Don’t Look At Me” and “Alone At The Ranch” complete the album by offering the last piece of the puzzle–intimacy. With other songs touching on love, support, reliability, regret, hardship, and aspirations, Breland successfully creates an album that is inclusive and authentic in its message.

Last month, the Bad Realm Records/Atlantic Records/Warner Music Nashville artist held an exhibit titled, “CROSS COUNTRY: A VISUAL EXPERIENCE” presented by Amazon Music at the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM). There, he hosted a discussion panel for members to share their thoughts and experiences on how being African American has had an impact on their careers. Some of the influential panelists included journalist Marcus Dowling from The Tennessean, Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony of the R&B duo Louis York, NBA Sr. Director of Player Development Drew Franklin, Nada Taha, and Tonya Breland, Breland’s mother who holds a Doctorate in Education. 

PHOTO CREDIT: CATHERINE POWELL / GETTY IMAGES L-R: DREW FRANKLIN, NBA SR. DIRECTOR OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT; CLAUDE KELLY AND CHUCK HARMONY OF R&B DUO LOUIS YORK; BRELAND;  MARCUS DOWLING, THE TENNESSEAN; NADA TAHA, APPLE MUSIC; TONYA BRELAND, BRELAND’S MOTHER AND DOCTORATE OF EDUCATION.  

The exhibit also held 14 different visual artists–all Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC)–who rendered their own painting of each song on Breland’s Cross Country album, creating 14 illustrations in total. To see the artist’s outline of each song along with their artwork, click here. While the paintings are abstract, the work is still beautifully displayed as a representation of each song on the tracklist.

As Breland reflects on the making of Cross Country, he shares:

“I think ‘Cross Country’ is more of a social movement of providing common ground for people who traditionally do and don’t listen to country music. Making country music a little bit more diverse and inclusive, but also creating bridges between people on one side of an aisle and people on the other… I want people to challenge some of their own notions about what country music is and what it sounds like, and hopefully introduce people to different sounds.”

Breland, Nashville Lifestyles

Country has certainly been stereotyped in the past, but Breland’s genuine efforts to bridge the gap between country music fans and fans of other genres such as Hip-Hop, Rap, and R&B, prove that it’s possible. Who knew there could be consolidation between the genres? Breland’s unmatched ability to bring people of all walks together doesn’t go unnoticed, and we’re so excited to see where this new movement takes the evolution of music.

Currently, Breland started touring with Fitz & The Tantrums and Andy Grammer’s The Wrong Party Tour last month, along with performing shows in Australia at CMC Rocks Qld 2022. Breland is also joining Russell Dickerson on tour in the U.K this month, and starting his Here For It Tour in November. Listen to more of Breland’s music below and be sure to comment what your favorite song of Cross Country is!

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Angela is a graduate of the University of Akron with her Bachelor’s in English. For more articles by this author, click on “Angela Graczyk” above. To contact Angela about freelance opportunities, visit LinkedIn.com/in/angela-graczyk-writer-and-editor.
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Angela is a graduate of the University of Akron with her Bachelor’s in English. For more articles by this author, click on “Angela Graczyk” above. To contact Angela about freelance opportunities, visit LinkedIn.com/in/angela-graczyk-writer-and-editor.

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