Brett Young is back with a number one record! Yes Ticket to L.A. has just gone to number one on the Billboard top Country albums chart! It deserves the top spot, being one of the best records released this year, in my opinion. At the album playback at Big Machine I looked around the room to see most people nodding and tapping along with a contented smile on their faces and since it’s release social media has been buzzing with positive thoughts about the record. Produced by Dan Huff and co-writers such as Nicolle Galyon, Shane McAnally, Hillary Lindsey and Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley to name a few involved with the project it was destined to be a success! Here’s a track by track review of what I thought.
The title track serves as the opening track and sets up the vibe for the whole record, a strong Country-pop production accompanies the detailed lyrics and catchy melodies and as I’ve previously said, your foot begins to tap from the first beat. “Here Tonight” the first single off the record follows on, maintaining the tempo and emotion of the first song but with even catchier melodies, I’d like to see it climb a little higher on the charts as it currently sits at number 18 on the Hot Country Songs Chart. This is definitely an anthem you can hear the fans belting out at his concerts with their hands raised in the air. The drum machine on “Catch” is very noticeable at the start, so any Country purists who don’t agree with that kind of sound in country… well it’s not for you! Lyrically the chorus in Catch is very clever, Young, Ross Copperman and Ashley Gorley make a good team.
“1, 2, 3, - Mississippi” has an interesting concept and keeps up this positive vibe the record has created so far. The producer has done a good job with Brett’s vocals, his soulful voice is at the forefront of every song despite some quite busy parts of the production. The balance is just right which becomes evident in the next song “Let It Be Mine” which features a list like lyric structure. The production begins stripped back and lets us really hear that clever songwriting and during the chorus we hear Young’s vocals soar as the melody allows room for long sustained notes from him. Shane McAnally is an expert at list lyrics and sure enough he’s a writer on this particular track alongside Ross Copperman and Jon Nite. I think it’s my favourite so far! “Where You Want Me” takes a slight departure from the rest of the record and what we’re used to with Brett. In fact it has a similar feel to some of the tracks on Kacey Musgraves latest record. I love the guitar solo as it fades out not that I ever really understood the point of a fade in the middle of an album.
“Used to Missin You” really pushes the boundaries of where Country turns to Pop however this is no surprise really with Young having spent a lot of time in LA early on in his music career and being influenced by the scene there as well as in Nashville after he moved. The closest we get to “In Case You Didn’t Know” on this record is the 6/8 ballad “Change Your Name” which has a lovely concept, that chorus really speaks to you and you can definitely see this being popular as a first dance song. It has a strong Country instrumentation as a pedal steel or something similar almost sings throughout, beneath the rest of the production. “Chapters” must hold a special place in Brett Young’s heart not just because he’s collaborated with an artist he has always stated as being one of his main influences - Gavin DeGraw, but because the lyrics are very personal as they discuss growing up and his baseball career and how it ended. It’s one of the stand outs on the record for me. “The Ship and The Bottle” boasts a stripped back production and perhaps is the most Country sounding song on the record. It’s a really beautiful metaphor, the lyrics are outstanding in fact. This song is to be really listened to and appreciated, musically there is also a nice instrumental breakdown with an electric guitar solo and just when you think the song is finished it starts up again with some backing vocals.
There is a nice rhythm to “Reason to Stay” again it demonstrates a nice mix of pop and country sensibilities in it’s writing. Brett’s vocals are fantastic particularly in the pre-chorus and chorus, it’s bright and the whole record is infused with positivity. I think I hear a Banjo in “Runnin Away From Home” I do like a good Banjo in the background of a Country song. The chorus once again is very catchy and boasts an extra hook with a kind of post chorus. The album concludes with “Don’t Wanna Write This Song” perhaps the saddest song on the whole record and it is one of the more stripped back songs on the album. Again there is some wonderful lyric writing on this track and it really shines the spotlight on how good Brett’s voice really is. In terms of the production there is a really effective string arrangement towards the latter stages of the song. All in all it has deservedly catapulted into the number 1 spot on the albums chart and could it be one of the best Country albums released this year? I think it’s in contention!