Obviously, Luke Bryan has a brand new album out, and it’s all anyone is talking about this week. But let’s flip the script a little and talk for a second about his debut album, I’ll Stay Me, which was released eight years ago Friday (Aug. 14).
When I think back to the debut albums of some of country biggest stars, I think, “Aw, that was such a good first try. What a rookie.” Then I usually stop listening to it when newer and better music comes along.
But then I think about I’ll Stay Me — and I can honestly say that not a day’s gone by in the past eight years when I haven’t listened to at least one of the 11 songs — I think that I knew Bryan was something from that very first album.
Of the 11 tracks, Bryan wrote 10. Ten. On his brand new album, Kill the Lights, he wrote six. He’s busier now with his career and his family, and I get that. But since everyone is raving right now about the fact that he wrote those six, I felt compelled to point out that Bryan has been a top-notch songwriter for almost a decade.
If you don’t believe me, go back and listen to a handful of those first songs: “The Car in Front of Me,” “You Make Me Want To,” “Tackle Box,” “I’ll Stay Me, “First Love Song.” Songs like that restored my faith in country music back in 2007, and still do today.
Especially “Tackle Box.” I mean, sure, Bryan wasn’t the first guy to write a song about fishing. But this one? It’s so much bigger than a fishing song. It’s about quiet grandpa who opens up every time they open up that old tackle box.
Bryan has released four studio albums since that first one, plus all those Spring Break EPs, but his talent has been steadfast and pure ever since he set foot in Nashville.