By: Annie Reuter
He effectively accomplishes this and much more on the 12-track album, all of which he co-wrote and co-produced. Where 2013 debut Bring You Back introduced Brett to the world with No. 1 singles “Don’t Ya,” “Beat of the Music” and “Mean to Me,” Illinois gives insight into who Brett is as a person. And as a result, Illinois is a more personal feel than his comical Snapchats, picturesque Instagram uploads and quirkiness on Twitter allow.
Brett gets the party going on Illinois with album opener “Fire” followed by the sultry throwback “You Can’t Stop Me” accompanied by Thomas Rhett. While many of the tracks will be big hits on the dance floor, it is the love ballads like “Wanna Be That Song,” a perfect follow-up for fans of “Mean to Me,” and “Drunk On Your Love,” a track that Florida Georgia Line‘s Tyler Hubbard used in his own wedding video, that leave the greatest mark.
The most poignant moment on the album comes on the title track. Written with Brad Crisler and Tom Douglas, “Illinois” is an autobiographical story of Brett’s rise to fame away from his home of Paris, Illinois. It’s a song for anyone who has left home to spread their wings so get those tissues ready.
Every country album needs a heartbreak song and Brett shows his skills as a songwriter and vocalist on the unique “Lose It All.” Written with Crisler and Bill Anderson, “Lose It All” is a step-by-step process of how to mess up a relationship. The song leaves a lasting impression thanks to Brett’s soulful baritone.
The versatility on Illinois is apparent as the mood quickly changes with next track, “Shadow.” Brett shows that he’s not afraid to push boundaries with the piano-based foot stomper that brings to mind Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” mixed in with the arena ready sound of OneRepublic.
“That’s all you can do: be yourself and make your music,” he concludes.
And thankfully for Brett, Illinois accomplishes just that.