Bryan finds voice matures with fatherhood

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Georgia native Luke Bryan will be back in Augusta on Monday at the Country Club nightclub, 2834 Washington Road. Doors will open at 7 p.m.,with an early show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17 which includes a copy of Mr. Bryan's new CD, Doin' My Thing , which was released on Tuesday on Capitol Records.

The CD has spawned a hit, Do I . It was written by Mr. Bryan and Lakeside High School Class of 2000 graduates Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, of Evans, two-thirds of Lady Antebellum.

When Mr. Bryan called from his Nashville home last week, I asked whether they had met when all three performed on the WKXC Guitar Pull in November.

"No. I knew them before that and had been with them several times since all of us are on Capitol Records," he said. "And we already had written Do I ."

The CD's title song also has an Evans connection: It was written by Mr. Bryan with Ben Hayslip, of Evans High Class of 1988. Mr. Hayslip, like Mr. Bryan, also a graduate of Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.

"We have a lot of Georgians represented on this album," Mr. Bryan said.

During our phone conversation, I could clearly hear Mr. Bryan's young son, Thomas Boyer "Bo" Bryan, in the background. The first child of Caroline and Luke Bryan was born March 18, 2008.

"No, Bo, no!" Mr. Bryan said to his son. To me he added, "I'm sorry, but my wife was supposed to be back by now. I'm letting my son play with my toolbox, and he's putting little things in his mouth he shouldn't be. But he isn't making too much racket, so we'll be happy with that."

What is amazing is that his new CD is almost two separate CDs.

The first six songs are typical Bryan material. But track seven, Apologize (written by Ryan Tedder), is easily Mr. Bryan's best recording.

His voice takes on a new dimension, sounding grittier, more emotional and more intense. The rest of the CD continues in that vein, with some great tunes, including Every Time I See You, and I Did It Again .

"I think vocally that Apologize is definitely the best thing I've ever done," he said.

Then he followed that saying, "Hold on. No, Bo! Don't put that in your mouth, son."

Then, "We obviously want to show a country side of me, but we also want people to know I'm not a one trick pony to say the least; that I'm capable of branching out. People hear me talk and they know my background and they immediately stereotype me as being a real, real country guy, and that's the right stereotype. But you also want people to know you're a little broader than that, too."

He said the grittier and more emotional sound comes from being on the road so much, including his recent tours opening for Kenny Chesney, Trace Adkins and Dierks Bentley.

"My voice is almost completely different than on my first album," he said. "My voice is better and stronger; more well-rounded. I've got a lower end of my range that's a lot better, and I've got a higher end of my range that's a lot better."

Bo apparently wasn't paying attention to his daddy's emotional voice, because Mr. Bryan injected, "No, Bo! Hold on. I'm making sure he ain't eating wing nuts. Sorry, this is unprofessional of me doing this phoner like this, but I guess it's kind of real. Let me get him some juice, and he'll be in a better mood. Here, buddy, here."

Don Rhodes has written about country music for 38 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at don.rhodes@morris.com.

IN CONCERT

WHO: Luke Bryan

WHERE: The Country Club, 2834 Washington Road

WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday, with an early show at 8 p.m.

COST: $17, which includes a copy of Mr. Bryan's new CD, Doin' My Thing

HEAR HIM: Listen to a cut off the new CD at augustachronicle.com/applause.


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