It seems no one has burst into the country scene as fast or as hard as Kane Brown. Since his self-titled 2017 debut album, he has only released a handful of full length albums and singles, and yet, the 28 year old singer has remained one of country’s biggest stars.
On Sept. 9, Brown released his third studio album, a 17 track record entitled Different Man. The record title is quite personal, withRolling Stone attributing the title to Brown’s biracial heritage making him different from the majority of the country industry.
Brown’s heritage isn’t the only thing setting him apart from other country artists though. Using both 90s country and hip-hop inspirations, Brown has spent his career fusing the two genres, creating a hip-hop/country/pop hybrid.
While this genre-blending is evident on his previous two records, it seems more prevalent on this 2022 installment. Brown manages to drift out of his lane throughout while remaining true to himself and his sound.
The opening track “Bury Me in Georgia,” is a heavy country stomper. Throughout this song, Brown pays homage to the state in which he was raised, begging to be buried there when he dies. Instrumentally and melodically, it reminisces “God’s Country,” Blake Shelton’s popular 2019 song.
Speaking of Shelton, the title track to Brown’s album is shared as a collaboration with him. Throughout “Different Man” Brown and Shelton sing passionately about being different, leaving their small town upbringings in favor of lights, big stages and fame.
“Different Man” isn’t the only collaboration on the album. The record’s seventh track, “Thank God,” is shared as a duet between Brown and his wife Katelyn. The song is accompanied by a mellow (slightly folky) guitar plucking and features beautiful lyrics about finding true love and thanking God for establishing the relationship.
Brown also notably takes some risks on this album as well. The song “Grand” is probably the most different, as it features hip-hop styled instrumentation and flows almost like a Lil Nas X song. “Drunk or Dreaming” is another outlier, featuring pop undertones like a Morgan Wallen song, but also island vibes like Zac Brown’s “Castaway.”
However, for all the naysayers who claim Brown has completely abandoned the country genre, there are some traditional country tunes on Different Man. One of the most obvious is “Like I Love Country Music” in which Brown confesses his love for his wife, equating it to his love for country music. It sounds like a song any country artist could sing, although perhaps best suited for someone like Chris Jansen or Florida Georgia Line.
The album comes full circle with the closing track “Dear Georgia.” In this bookend track, Brown once again makes an enjoyable song for his hometown, but this time it acts more as a love letter. Additionally, it is a lot mellower than the raucous opener, closing the album on a quiet but sentimental note.
Without a doubt, Different Man exemplifies what the title says. Brown proves he is a man who is not afraid to be himself in a genre that sometimes seems to be too traditional and “closed off” to different kinds of music. There’s something in here for everyone, whether you prefer conventional country or more of a pop vibe. Out of ten stars, Different Man warrants 7 in my book.