No act has blown up quite the way Zach Bryan has in the last two years. Beginning during the initial Covid lockdown, buzz has steadily grown to a roar around the young Oklahoma singer/songwriter. His rise has been a throwback to the type of word of mouth grassroots growth that typically was a hallmark of the early internet/pre-streaming era of the music business. A network of individuals rising to form a colossal block of support, fandom and revenue. Just last week, Bryan released his major label debut, a double album entitled American Heartbreak. An ambitious project that is also a throwback to a different age. The double album has become a dinosaur in the modern realm of dropping singles, viral TikToks and clout chasing content.
Zach Bryan is an unabashed success. But, despite all of those platitudes, I’ve realized he’s just not for me. And, that’s okay! I respect what he’s done, but just don’t dig the music. Certainly not on the level of the masses at the moment. I appreciate it for what it is, but it doesn’t move my needle. I’m in the minority on that opinion, and that’s also okay! It’s kind of like my wife watching true crime stuff all the time. Aside from giving her pointers for when she wants to break bad, she never tires of it. Snapped, Dateline, podcasts etc. It’s all her jam. And it resonates with so many others. I get it, but it’s far from my favorite television genre. The same thing holds true with Zach Bryan and me. I understand the appeal, but it’s mostly lost on me as a direct listener. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not rooting him on to keep knocking down walls.
I hope the kid keeps selling records, packing venues and turning new fans on to songs written about real emotions by a real human being coming from a place of reflection. Far too often the music that blows up is surface level fluff. Zach Bryan, whether you’re a fan or not, delivers music that carries some emotional heft. We can always use more of that.
2022 may be a year of turning corners. Turnpike is reunited. Zach Bryan is selling out venues coast to coast. Whiskey Myers and Shane Smith & the Saints are on a large tour. Drew Kennedy and Adam Hood are both releasing new records. People are shaking off the hell of the last two years and attempting to reclaim some vitality. Obstacles are still in the way for all things, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. With regard to music, things are looking better than they have in a long, long time. Zach Bryan is a major reason that is happening. Hopefully, some kid somewhere is inspired enough to sit in his bedroom, staring at the walls, pressing on steel strings and jotting down words that mean something to him. And the cycle will continue to roll onward.
-Galleywinter RIVER JAM 2022 is taking place Fri July 8, Sat July 9 and Sun July 10 in San Marcos and New Braunfels. It’s our 20th year of doing this. As always, it’s structured to be an event where music fans can join together, make friends, reunite, discover new music, celebrate favorite music and enjoy life for a few days. It’s a well-rounded, diverse line-up as always. And you won’t find a better time to float the river and hangout with music fans all summer.
Sun July 10 – 15 of the best songwriters on the planet – Lone Star Float House – FREE
-Uvalde still permeates my thoughts constantly. In the wake of the tragedy, one of the few things I found solace in was music. Specifically, the music of Wade Bowen, Sean McConnell, Shinyribs and Walt Wilkins. It’s a healing thing.
-The tragic end to Marion Barber’s life is all too common for pro football players.
-The new Top Gun was everything I’d hoped it would be. Cheesy, nostalgic, fun.
-This month’s recommended album: Jonny Burke – Behind the Pine Curtain. The best songwriters write from real life experience and heartbreak. Throughout the years, country music has been littered with songs about prison. So much so, that it can be a trope. There’s nothing standard about what Burke delivers here. A hitch in state prison can reveal some truths about a man, and Burke espouses the despair, longing, loneliness, anxiety and sparing optimism in a manner that can only be derived from living behind bars.
-”Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain