OFFSTAGE: Tailgates, Tanlines, Luke Bryan & Me

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Luke Bryan and I did a “his-and-hers” thing. It was the last time he was in Chicago, and I’d just spent a couple of weeks listening to all the new music on his album, Tailgates & Tanlines, released Tuesday (Aug. 9). First, I told him my favorites tracks, then he told me his. And would you believe we were in total agreement over our top three? We both adore “You Don’t Know Jack” — Bryan because he told me it’s just a perfectly-crafted country song and me because it’s not what you think it’s going to be from the song title alone. Then there’s “Tailgate Blues.” And what’s not to love about Bryan bringing Ashton Shepherd in to sing it with him? “She’s my favorite voice as far as being that country,” he told me, and I wholeheartedly agree. Plus, I just think Bryan does these soul-searching songs so convincingly. And this one is pretty obvious because it’s probably going to make everyone’s top three: “Drunk on You.” Think Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love,” but with less angst and more banjo. “I think this song will be ginormous. It doesn’t take too many listens to dial in to it,” Bryan said. We weren’t so agreeable after that. Bryan’s next favorite song was “I Don’t Want This Night to End” and mine was “I Know You’re Gonna Be There.” Honestly, all the songs on this album are so Bryan, we could’ve gone on all night comparing notes. But he had fans waiting. And to Bryan, it’s their opinions of the music that matter most.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.