Brett Young Is Nothing But Honest on New ‘Brett Young’ EP
Brett Young comes across as the kind of guy mamas want their babies to marry. He's tall, handsome, can sing — but only if it's honest — and has a tendency to make every woman in the room go "Awww ..." when he's telling the stories that inspired the five songs on his self-titled EP.
As for the men? Well, it's tough for a guy's guy to hate on him. He's humble, seems to be athletic, prefers whiskey in the writing room and landed the reigning Miss USA as his love interest in the music video for "Sleep Without You." So yeah, fist bump on that final scene, bro.
The tall Californian (seriously, like Charles Kelley tall) mixes soul, R&B and country in a way that fits neatly between any two songs you hear on the radio now. Lee Brice is who he's often compared to — some say Jack Johnson, but Young doesn't hear it. Boys II Men and Ed Sheeran (when he's singing blue-eyed soul) are influences.
The sensitive, acoustic-driven "Sleep Without You" is Young's single, but "In Case You Didn't Know" might be the most honest introduction. The song stretches him vocally, and his voice responds with a husky delivery that's impossibly personal. He's a fine balladeer during this stirring love song. Whether it's his story or someone else's, it's honest.
“I try not to take any liberties when it comes to being factual," Young says. "Sometimes you have to, just to make the song sound good. But I feel like personally if you’ve lived it then you shouldn’t stretch the truth. It should be that experience.”
"You Ain't Here to Kiss" me is painfully personal. It's a breakup song inspired by a trip out west to see a lover. After a week he ... well, the song says it best:
"Home for seven days and I haven't even seen your face / I guess I got a flight to change / There ain't nothing left to say," Young sings, opening the song with unmistakable melancholy.
This is exactly how it happened, and the lyrics came pouring out of him soon after his return trip. “A little depression and a glass of whiskey goes a long way in a writers' room for me,” he jokes, admitting that the sad songs do come easier than the happy ones.
But there are still a few happy ones on Brett Young. "Beautiful Believer" is songwriter Jon Nite's story, although Young wrote it. He heard him accepting an award for a No. 1 song, talking about his first days in Nashville when he and his wife were young and broke and caring for a baby.
“And he was trying to songwrite, which wasn’t making them any money," Young recalls Nite saying. "He talked about how supportive his wife was and he called her his 'beautiful believer.'”
“Because that’s their story, and not mine," he adds. "I really fought the whole time to not stray from the facts.”
The Dann Huff-produced EP is an eclectic mix of styles and tempos, and Young proves to be a dynamic singer and storyteller. He also has important friends, which is how he convinced Miss USA Olivia Jordan to in his music video. For a few years he has played the Miss Nevada pageant, where he became friends with Miss USA 2014, Nia Sanchez. He convinced her to call Jordan, and luckily, the scheduling worked out. The two onscreen lovers don't share a scene until the very end of the "Sleep Without You" music video, but oh wow, what a scene!
But Young doesn't brag about getting to hold a lingerie-clad Miss USA like a groom holds his bride on their wedding night. “I’ve never been that comfortable with the acting thing," he admits. "It’s difficult for me to separate what’s really going on. If there’s kissing, that’s kissing. I’m not acting, I don’t know how.”
“Luckily she’s a pro and she was very professional and very easy to work with," he confirms.
She's not the only one. Our interview with Young ended with a throwaway question about the key he often wears on a chain around his neck. The Huntington Beach-to-Nashville transplant explains that it was given to him by a friend, who started a company called the Giving Keys. Basically, she gave homeless people a job inscribing old keys with inspiring words. Young's says "Be young" but some may things like "Love."
“If I’m in a conversation with somebody who maybe just got broken up with, and they’re seemingly very down on love, then the concept is I’m supposed to give them my key to encourage them.” Actress, songwriter and musician Caitlin Crosby is that friend, and she's gotten upward of 50 homeless people off the streets.
Brett Young's journey is just beginning. "Sleep Without You" hasn't officially cracked Billboard's Country Airplay chart, and few know anything about him, other than he's really tall and is prone to posting inspiring quotes to Instagram. His rise to stardom will depend on the music ultimately. But if there's room for one more tall, good-looking kid from California who can sing a woman's knees weak but catch her when she falls, he should do well.
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