Album Review – Brantley Gilbert’s ‘The Devil Don’t Sleep’

Who? –
Brantley Gilbert from Jefferson, Georgia
Album Release Date / Producer? – January 27th, 2017 / Dan Huff (with Scott Borchetta as Executive Producer)
Genre? – Country Rock, or as Country Perspective pointed out, “Buttrock”

Opinion On The Artist’s Discography Overall Up To This Point? – Believe it or not I don’t actually mind Brantley all that much. Yeah, he’s had some absolutely atrocious songs, many of which we’ll be dealing with today, but as an overall artist, he can be solid when he wants to be. His debut album, Modern Day Prodigal Son is far and away his best work, and on its own merit it’s a really good album. 2010’s Halfway To Heaven is more of a mixed bag, mixing some truly great songs like “Saving Amy” and the title track with real clunkers like “Kick It In The Sticks”. 2014’s Just As I Am brought Brantley back to “relatively solid”, with more of an emphasis on some deeper cuts as opposed to the bro-country singles that fronted the album. He’s got some horrible songs, but overall I truthfully don’t mind the guy.

Where Might Other People Know This Act From? – I might delete this section when I talk about mainstream albums, I mean look on Wikipedia if you seriously don’t know…

Is There Any Sort Of Event Surrounding the Making Of This Album? – As far as I know, no. “The Weekend” is doing well enough to warrant the release so here we are.

Can You Give A Brief Overview Of This New Project? – Well I’ll say this, I don’t truthfully hate the album. If anything, I’m more disappointed than anything else, especially since like I said, I know this dude can do better. If anything this is the album I think we all expected from Brantley in 2014 – cliched, trend-chasing overproduced drivel that will do nothing to elevate Brantley as an artist unless he chooses to release one of the few good songs here.

What Are The Low Points / Nitpicks Of The Project? – Like I said, this is the type of the album I expected from Brantley in 2014, and the reason why extends towards the songwriting. I don’t know if people thought Brantley’s last album was too “soft” or something, but we sure as hell get the message that Brantley is a tough old “outlaw” on this record. Do we get the message through any dark, gritty stories that might actually justify it? Of course not, we get it through… songs and hook up tracks….you see why I keep referring back to 2014? “The Weekend”, “It’s About To Get Dirty”, “Bullet In A Bonfire”, “The Ones That Like Me”….sure, some of them differ from each other a little in what they’re going for, but the focus is always on Brantley posing as this big badass who you shouldn’t mess with, and again, he’s just telling us this instead of proving it through stories.

Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the one track on this album that’s got to be one of the worst tracks I’ve heard so far this year – “Bro Code”. I mean, look at the damn title. The narrator has been hanging with his (presumable) friend’s girlfriend, but he’s not breaking “bro code”, he’s just her support for her since she’s bored with this other dude. I mean, the overall concept could actually be executed well…. Gary Allan did something similar to this with “Man To Man” over a decade ago, but this? Well, it’s not exactly nearly in the same league let’s just say that. It’s obnoxious in the worst way possible.

Other than that, honestly most of this album just veers into boring territory more so than outright terrible (aside from the aforementioned tracks obviously). I mean, it’s got sixteen tracks, it’s a pretty common problem. “Outlaw In Me”, “You Could Be That Girl”, “Rockin’ Chairs”, “Baby Be Crazy”, “Way Back”, they all may have one or two redeemable factors, but not enough for me to really say I enjoy them or would ever return to them again.

What Are The High Points / Praiseworthy Elements Of The Project? – Well here’s the thing about that whole “enjoying music like a human thing” I was talking about earlier, it sort of applies to a couple of these tracks. Brantley’s vocals have never bothered me like I know they do for so many other people, but at the same time he’s not exactly a strong singer in any way. That being said, I won’t deny that when the mood calls for it, Brantley isn’t half bad at showing some real emotion. “In My Head” on paper isn’t anything special – these two lovers shared a night of I guess being together in a field and sleeping in his truck, and now some time later he’s thinking about that night and more specifically, this girl. Again, simple theme, but the execution is what gets me.

Brantley is at least selling this track with a lot of sadness and regret in his voice, wishing he could have that moment back (and again, more specifically this girl), and considering the production does a pretty nice job of setting up that moody, disconnected atmosphere, this track honestly works a lot for me. The same feeling applies to “Smokin’ Gun” to a lesser extent.

Although I’m still largely critical of the whole reliance on being a badass on this album, there are at least moments that seem to shy away from it or at least try to add something to the story. The title track kind of works for me since it showcases Brantley literally running away from the devil, not wanting the darkness to overtake him, and the song actually evolves in mood over the duration of the song to sort of feel justified, even if it is admittedly one of Brantley’s worst vocal performances on the album.

Of course, the one song on here that truly is great is “Three Feet Of Water”, a song that honestly makes me sad knowing that the other fifteen tracks don’t live up to this at all, since this is a damn great song. I’ve never been turned off from more overtly religious songs since, well I’m a man of faith. That being said, this is the one moment on the album where Brantley stops pretending to be a badass and actually show some vulnerability, citing the regrets he’s had over the years. Dare I say the production is clear enough to the point that Brantley actually sounds good vocally, yeah I know right?

Closing Thoughts? – So overall, I was really hoping for more from Brantley Gilbert on this album. I mean he did get some of it right here, but to be fair, it’s got sixteen tracks. You’d have to really suck not to get it right at least a couple times. That being said, he’s better than this, and in an age where country music seems ready to move on from this type of overproduced drivel, Brantley is apparently stuck in the past.

Can You Summarize Who Might Like This Album? – The BG Nation, although even as someone who would say he is more of a fan of Brantley than he isn’t, I’d be curious to see what casual fans think.

Are There Any Albums This Reminds You Of? – Lyrically? Oh yeah, I’ve heard a lot of this before.

From A Business Perspective… – This is something I’ve decided to incorporate when I talk about mainstream albums. Here, I’ll just pretty much state how I predict this album to do overall in terms of impact and radio as well. In terms of the former, well, the BG Nation will pretty much ensure that this isn’t a total flop for Brantley. Although this apparently only opened with 66,000 copies it’s first week, a big drop from his previous album’s opening sales of over 200,000. To be fair, album sales are down across the board in general since a couple years ago, but still, it’s interesting to observe. 

I don’t quite know how radio will react to this. “The Weekend” is far from the most friendly track here, so it’s perplexing to see it as the lead single. Anyway, in a perfect world we’d see “Three Feet Of Water” get released, but in reality I foresee tracks like “Tried To Tell Ya” and “You Could Be That Girl”. They’re both safe and catchy enough to probably be decent hits for Brantley. “Bro Code” will also probably be released and I just pray that when it does it flames out hard. Overall I don’t see this having a huge impact for Brantley the way his previous albums have, but then again, I guess we’ll see.

Best Song(s)? – “Three Feet Of Water”, “In My Head”, “The Devil Don’t Sleep”, “Smokin’ Gun”
Worst (Or Weakest) Songs? – “The Weekend”, “It’s About To Get Dirty”, “Bro Code”
Where Can I Buy This Album? – ​

Grade: D+

One thought on “Album Review – Brantley Gilbert’s ‘The Devil Don’t Sleep’

  1. From a business perspective I guess it makes sense for him to stick with this bro/outlaw stuff. He has a huge following and even if radio doesn’t want bro country anymore it doesn’t matter. I think the vocals r pretty bad on some songs and some of the songs r cringeworthy like bro code and you could b that girl. He is what he is not a great vocalist, a bros bro and an “outlaw.” He could obviously be so much better as we have seen b4 but this is what we should expect from him for the most part.


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