Let’s start with the self-consciously obvious single, “If She Wants a Cowboy.” Fans of Zach Bryan have come to expect reflection and depth from his work, and “Cowboy” is the obvious opposite: A song about selling out and wearing a hat, just to get the girl. Yes, it’s a metaphor. Zach Bryan is not radio ready. His music is usually slow and deliberate, and his best songs avoid obvious hooks and catchy choruses in favor of authenticity. He’s the kind of artist the labels often ignore.
But he’s incredible. And “American Heartbreak,” an ambitious double-album, is proof. Most artist today release a proper album and then jam 5-10 more songs on it that are all filler and are just designed to fill out playlists and get a few more pennies off Spotify. I can’t fault the business model, but I can admire an artist like Zach Bryan who speaks only when he has something to say.
That’s in the rearview now. He’s signed to Warner. This album is a hit–the most streamed country album on both Apple Music and Spotify. He’s on a cross-country tour. But don’t hold that against him. His music may have changed a little, but it’s still fantastic.
“Something in the Orange” is the kind of smart, sad stuff that Bryan does so well. The lyrics are insightful and powerful, and it might even make you cry. But unlike his last album, there’s lots of counterpoint. Like “Heavy Eyes” and “Mine Again,” both upbeat, fast songs for dancing and drinking with friends.
Love this album.