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Brantley Gilbert

Fire & Brimstone – 2019 (Valory)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Brantley Gilbert

It would be easy (and lazy journalism) to write about how much Brantley Gilbert's music is un-country. You need only isolate the drum parts for most of these latest songs to confirm this is primarily a rock recording (masked as country). However, there are some quality - if not exactly country - songs on this effort, which cry out for a different sort of evaluation.

Gilbert saves his best for last with "Man That Hung The Moon," a song about fatherhood that will likely bring many dads to tears. It's a quiet song, as it should be, and gets right to the heart of the great joys in parenting. There are also a couple of spiritual songs, each sung from the perspective of a black sheep. Far too often, whenever country artists write songs involving spiritual struggles, they rationalize sinful behavior along with a belief in a higher power. It's okay to raise a little hell, many of these songs suggest, because God knows I'm basically a good person at heart. Gilbert, though, is honest enough to admit he's a sinner, and vulnerable enough to confess he's just not always sure where he stands with God. "Lost Soul's Prayer" is a conversation between just Gilbert and God, and "Fire & Brimstone," which also features Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss, finds Gilbert feeling extremely uncomfortable at church. "Bad Boy," about a self-confessed bad boy that is nevertheless good for one girl, is also nicely done.

For those that go to Gilbert for loud and proud country boy anthems, there is "Fire't Up." He also includes a useless stoner song called "Welcome To Hazeville," which wastes and barely utilizes Willie Nelson. Thankfully, though, there are more than enough highlights to make "Fire & Brimstone" worth a listen. If nothing else, Gilbert is finally moving in the right direction, artistically.