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After a rocking start, going acoustic serves Gilbert well

Brantley Gilbert's Dawg House, Maysville, Ga., December 30, 2020

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Brantley Gilbert seemed to leave little doubt from where he was coming from – at least early on. He may be on the country charts, but Gilbert rocked out big time during his livestream show, starting with "Kick It in the Sticks." It was loud and rocking hard with lots of guitars and name checks of AC/DC, Hank, Lynyrd Skynyrd and George Strait. Chances are quite strong that Strait never sang anything like this.

But give Gilbert for changing it up and for the better with an acoustic stretch as well. .

"Country Wide" may have been his first country hit, but the sound was more befitting a rock concert (well, there was touches of mandolin in the background) even though it contained the lines "a country boy could survive" while also mentioning Cash, Hank, Willie and Waylon.

Gilbert toned it down on the song that he penned that became a hit for Jason Aldean, "My Kinda Party," but lacked the vocal spark that Aldean gave the song.

Yet chances are Gilbert could care less. His attitude may have been summed up by his song "The Ones That Like Me" with the line "the ones that like me like me." Nothing like having a BG Nation fan base to carry you through.

Following an ad promoting his forthcoming merchandise, Gilbert, seated on a stool with an acoustic guitar, was joined by his band mates for a far more winning acoustic segment. The focus was on Gilbert, his lyrics and his band during this part of the short 50-minute show.

He certainly proved could he could go in a different direction on "You Don't Know Her Like I Do" with soft, heartfelt vocals and a lot of acoustic National guitar stylings plus mandolin. What a welcome contrast.

And while Gilbert showed what he could do with a rocking song he helped make a hit for Aldean, he gave a far better look to "Dirt Road" acoustic style. Yet again, it was his softer vocals with some backing help, the song had far more musical muscle this way than if Gilbert had gone the electric route. An acoustic interlude only emphasized that these songs were more engaging.

The definite highlight was "One Hell of an Amen." "We've watched through the years that this has turned from a mourning, a grievance to a celebration of life. It's turned into an anthem," said Gilbert.

Dedicated to two friends – one who died while serving in Iraq and the other from cancer – the acoustic meanderings fit the subject matter perfectly with Gilbert breathing a lot of emotion with his somewhat gritty vocals.

Gilbert described the performance as to what was a "normal night at the Dawg House," which was the garage he built at his houses. The scene shifted to the bar area, but still staying acoustic with only two of his band mates helping out. The even softer sonics worked on songs like "My Kinda Crazy" and his current single, "Hard Days," which he said addressed the difficult year all have endured. Nicely done.

But Gilbert wasn't down in the dumps. "2020 can kiss both sides of my ass," Gilbert said after the song, while sitting at the bar, before doing some shots with his band and saluting 2021 for better times.

And with that, Gilbert and band went back to the stage in a musical salute to a better year with the closing "Bottoms Up" electric style, although you can't complain when a banjo can be heard in the mix.

Gilbert's first livestream was a tale of two sounds, and he demonstrated that acoustic serves him quite well. No doubt about that.

Kick It in the Sticks
Country Wide
My Kinda Party
The Ones That Like Me
You Don't Know Her Like I Do
Dirt Road
One Helluva Amen

My Kinda Crazy
Hard Days
Bottoms Up

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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