Those of you who only know country music as nothing but the undeniably brilliant Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5’ and Billy Ray Cyrus’ ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, may only recognize Florida Georgia Line for their Diamond Certified- and absolute banger- ‘Cruise’. However, the upbeat and modern country double act have brilliantly meshed the traditional themes and aspects of country music in their latest release.
The ‘Bro-Country’ pioneers, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley released their EP 6-Pack on the 22nd of May 2020 and we agree with Billboard that the record is truly is a “variety pack” with “a little something for everybody”.
Florida Georgia Line’s turn to a more traditional country sound can be attributed to the influence of elite producer Corey Crowder who helped create the EP. This is a different, fresher sound, compared to that associated with the duo when expert mixer and songwriter Joey Moi was in the studio with Florida Georgia Line. The increased use of banjo and drums in Hubbard and Kelley’s sound, which country music magazine Taste of Country believes gives hits like ‘I Love My Country’ a down-to-earth feel. This all-out country bop is impossible not to at least attempt an “Alabama shake” to.
The subject matter of ‘I Love My Country’, wherein the band mention fishing, sitting lake-side, and whiskey from Kentucky, may not be familiar to all listeners. However, the love with which the band sings these lyrics remind me of what I love about my own country. Who doesn’t miss the classic British pub garden?
The EP features ‘Second Guessing’, which debuted on NBC’s reality songwriting competition ‘Songland’. This track is an ode to mature and certain love. The reassuring and truly delightful crooner caused even this cynical, unfeeling listener’s ice-cold heart, to thaw. Overthinking is something that this song draws upon, this feeling of literally ‘Second Guessing’ is familiar to all of us in this unfamiliar landscape, wherein we are homebound. However, the certainty that FGL presents is a balm to those who, at this time, need to focus on the love we do have – not what we don’t have.
FGL’s website and social media presence depict 6 beer cans, one for each of the new release’s tracks. Iconic, right? The imagery of the first track being titled ‘Beer:30’ and lyrics such as “I been workin’ like a dog all week long/ So maybe somethin’ cold won’t hurt me” is the universal Friday experience of tiredness. The longing for a beverage to take the edge off is concentrated into a head-bopper and toe-tapper in ‘Beer:30’. The ode to the kickback after work brings the listener straight into the down to earth style the EP delivers near masterfully.
‘U.S. Stronger’, much like the bands earlier work ‘H.O.L.Y’ is an almost pseudo-Christian ballad, which puts faith, love, and reliance on one another at the centre of its message. As a listener, both this new entry and this old favourite bring out what is often considered the best aspects of country and highlight what is so delightful about this new release.
While the band has capitalized on their party image as the poster boys of ‘Bro-Country’, hosting a party cruise from Miami to Mexico and releasing a whiskey – “much like the band, OLD CAMP always brings the party”, this new EP shows a definitive growth in the Florida Georgia Line’s sound. The term ‘Bro-Country’ was created in 2013 by Jody Rosen in a Vulture article to explain the “music by and of the tatted, gym-toned, party-hearty young American white dude” and was embodied by the early discography of Florida Georgia Line. As enjoyable as these twenty-teens hits were, into 2020 the return to the traditional way of the most “mature genre”, gives listeners hits such as ‘U.S. Stronger’ and ‘Countryside’.
While the band may have previously been criticized for paying ‘lip-service’ to traditional country music themes and sounds, the genuine affinity that Hubbard and Kelley have for the life depicted by generations of country singers, is clearly demonstrated in this EP.
6-Pack maintains the fun party feel of Florida Georgia Line’s older albums, but the maturity and earnestness that the modern listener requires make for a joyful listening experience.
Stream Florida Georgia Line’s brand new EP 6-Pack below: