With his first release in nearly three years, modern outlaw Brantley Gilbert delivers his take on love and marriage, redemption and life in a small town. Like his previous four albums, all 15 tracks on Valory Music Co.’s Fire & Brimstone are either written or co-written by Gilbert, who considers himself a songwriter first and foremost.
“With this record, the goal for me was to let each song just be what it was––uninhibited and unfiltered,” Gilbert says. “We just followed the song’s instincts. I like to be able to write, and if it feels like the song is leading a certain way, then let’s go chase it.”
Vocal collaborators Lindsay Ell, Colt Ford, Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson and Lukas Nelson help set the tone on this latest offering. The debut track, “What Happens in a Small Town,” written about Gilbert’s own relationship, has hit the Top 10 and continues to climb.
Recent release “Bad Boy” chronicles the journey of a love affair told primarily from a mother’s point of view. “Every line in this song is the truth. Amber and I haven’t always had the easiest of journeys, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It takes a special kind of heart to love a bad boy,” Gilbert explains.
The bad boy theme continues with the blue-collar southern rocker “Not Like Us,” while “Welcome to Hazeville” features Willie Nelson, his son Lukas Nelson and Ford. Both songs were released earlier this year, along with the heartfelt “Man That Hung the Moon.” The latter, a solo-penned love letter to Gilbert’s son from the first-time dad, takes on new meaning with the recent birth of his daughter.
“As a man, very seldom do I talk about many things that are more than skin deep,” Gilbert admits. “As a songwriter and as an artist, I feel like the best way to represent myself is to be transparent––to write that story––and to write about things that maybe even I’m not comfortable talking about.”
As the contrast in these songs implies, Gilbert mines a rich vein of conflict between the party and the pew; hell raising and child rearing: “I feel like I am at the stage in my career where I am confident enough to let the music take me where it’s meant to go, no matter how down and dirty that might be. We always know where we stand. As long as there’s a box, I always know where I’m supposed to be, and that’s on the outside of it.”
Gilbert, one of only five country artists to have back-to-back platinum albums this century, borrows the title of his current single “Fire’t Up” to brand his upcoming 2020 tour, which kicks off Jan. 23 in London, Ontario, with stops in 34 cities in the U.S. and Canada.
Fire & Brimstone Tracks (songwriters in parentheses):
1. Fire’t Up (Brantley Gilbert, Brandon Day, Justin Weaver)
2. Not Like Us (Brantley Gilbert, Rhett Akins, Brock Berryhill, Amy Wadge)
3. Welcome to Hazeville (Brantley Gilbert, Rodney Clawson, Andrew DeRoberts, Colt Ford) featuring Colt Ford, Lukas Nelson and Willie Nelson
4. What Happens in a Small Town (Brantley Gilbert, Rhett Akins, Brock Berryhill, Josh Dunne) featuring Lindsay Ell
5. She Ain’t Home (Brantley Gilbert, Brian Davis, Justin Weaver)
6. Lost Soul’s Prayer (Brantley Gilbert, Andrew DeRoberts)
7. Tough Town (Brantley Gilbert, Blake Chaffin, Andrew DeRoberts, Josh Phillips)
8. Fire & Brimstone (Brantley Gilbert) featuring Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss
9. Laid Back Ride (Brantley Gilbert)
10. Bad Boy (Brantley Gilbert, Andrew DeRoberts, Josh Phillips)
11. New Money (Brantley Gilbert, Rhett Akins, Brock Berryhill, Brandon Day)
12. Breaks Down (Brantley Gilbert, Jaida Dreyer, Josh Mirenda, Justin Weaver)
13. Man of Steel (Brantley Gilbert, Brock Berryhill, Cole Taylor)
14. Never Gonna Be Alone (Brantley Gilbert, Brock Berryhill, Erik Dylan)
15. Man that Hung the Moon (Brantley Gilbert)