A country (trap) song (and its extra country trap remix) is the most popular song in the United States. “Old Town Road” has captured the hearts and minds of country lovers and haters. It’s fun, it’s catchy, it’s very easy to scream at the top of your lungs and it sounds good (damn good) blasting from car speakers. The infectious jam has single-handedly rejuvenated the career of “Achy Breaky Heart” singer Billy Ray Cyrus, introduced the world at large to Lil Nas X and ignited a conversation about race, genre and the relevancy of Billboard charts. And did I mention it heavily samples a Nine Inch Nails song? If this isn’t the most interesting country song to be released in 2019, then we’re in for a hell of a year.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. Sure, I love “Old Town Road” as much as the next person who has been dying for a better hip-hop country crossover than Nelly and Tim McGraw’s grating “Over And Over” (2004 was a wild time), but “Old Town Road” is a new country song. The only thing I love more than new country songs, is old country songs that I can play over and over again in a desperate bid to get high of the nostalgia of my youth.
If listening to my private Spotify playlist filled with early to mid-2000’s pop country hits (the playlist is called “EMBARRASSING”) is the music equivalent of getting high furtively in your childhood bedroom, then Brooks & Dunn’s latest album is like a very fancy, very bougie country music dispensary that I can’t stop telling all my friends about. Appropriately titled Reboot, the album features Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn re-recording some of their most iconic songs with a little help from countries hottest young musicians, including Kacey Musgraves, Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett, Midland, etc. It’s the most clever (and delightful) marketing scheme I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.
Despite the injection of hot, young country blood, none of Reboot’s songs feel especially modern. Many of them double down on the goofy side of country, like “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” (with the dreamy boys of Midland). The song starts out with an added dose outlaw country flair, which is quickly replaced by a jaunty saloon piano as it becomes the full on rollicking dance number it always was, but with much shinier production values. If any song has the power to bring back line-dancing again, it’s this one. (As a side note, I will never get over the way Ronnie Dunn sings the word “horsies”.)
And speaking of production, nothing sounds better on this album than Luke Combs re-working of “Brand New Man.” The song always had a killer chorus, but the heavier guitars, harder drums and dense combination of all of their voices takes this altar call to love to the next level. With its clap heavy versus and delicate sprinkling of twangs, it’s the highest form of pop-county and the perfect opening song.
Although, in comparison to Kacey Musgraves‘ “Neon Moon,” most of the album sounds like some very talented kids doing karaoke. It’s ambitious to take on what is clearly Brooks & Dunn’s greatest song. The original “Neon Moon” is a deceptively simple masterpiece that tackles two of countries favorite topics, love and alcoholism. Musgraves makes the emo country song sound like its being broadcast from another dimension. It’s full of pulsing, synth-y goodness that breaks into a low-key 80’s-esque jam, but never fully shakes off the sadness. If any songs is made for dancing and crying at the same time, it’s this one.
For an album built on a foundation of jams, it’s better than I could have dreamed. Equal parts funny and sad and dance-y and ridiculous, Reboot is made to be played at top volume while driving down the highway. Or while you dance alone in your kitchen. Or while you build Ikea furniture. Or when you need something new to listen to after replaying “Old Town Road” for the 69th time.