Brian Kelley: Sunshine State of Mind – Album Review

Brian Kelley’s debut solo album, Sunshine State of Mind is out now, June 25th, on all streaming platforms. This beach-inspired project features seventeen tracks, including the four off the EP, BK’s Wave Pack. Take a look below as we dig a little deeper into the collection of music.

Back in April, we got a taste of what style of music Brian Kelley, who serves as one half of the GRAMMY-nominated duo, Florida Georgia Line, was gearing up to release with his forthcoming solo project. This time without long-time bandmate, Tyler Hubbard. Although the same feel-good vibes are present throughout the record, Kelley’s lyrics are delivered in a much calmer and tropical essence. He truly embraces his Florida roots in this collection of island-themed tracks.

The album starts off with the relaxing “Boat Names,” in which the singer takes his girl to the dock to check out all the boats. He promises her that one day he’ll have his own boat he can name after her. This is followed by the previously released “Made By The Water,” as he portrays a perfect day at the beach with the love of his life.

Aside from island life, love is another major theme on the album. Kelley shows gratitude for his wife on numerous tracks including “Fish All Day,” “Say The Word,” and “Songs For You.” Kelley puts his country roots on display in the traditional sounding “Fish All Day.” According to Kelley, fishing all day and loving all night is the perfect recipe for a wonderful day.

“Say The Word” is a low-tempo, sexy song in which the couple just got home from their beach vacation, referring to it as “heaven on earth.” However, they immediately miss the sun, waves, and sand beneath their feet. He reassures her by agreeing to go back anytime she wants. In “Songs For You,” the singer serenades his girl by playing the songs he wrote for her. With the sun going down behind them on the beach, he describes this as “a picture-perfect end to a day.”

Country singers often sing about driving their truck down backroads and on highways with their lover riding shotgun, but in Kelley’s songs, they’re on the water and he and the girl are captain and co-captain of the ship. In “Highway On The Water,” he explains why this is his preference — there’s never any traffic and they can float at their own pace. Kelley understands that boats can bring out different moods in different people; some like to party and some just like to relax. The tempo changes song by song. While this song is upbeat and contains a heavy amount of fiddle, “Boat Ride” is much calmer and includes a backing ukulele. “By Boat” is a mid-tempo track in which Kelley is in awe of his view from his boat of the sunset kissing the ocean, and if he’s ever going to get to heaven, it won’t be by stairway, it’ll be by boat.

Although the general sound on this album is much different than the typical Florida Georgia Line one, several songs, such as “Real Good Day” and “Party On The Beach” are reminiscent of it. The former leans hip-hop and simply describes what makes a good day; drinking by a bonfire and listening to George Strait on the speaker with good friends and attractive women. “Party On The Beach,” which was previously released, includes sounds from a traditional Hawaiian luau and a screeching seagull. Both are perfect songs to throw on your beach playlist.

“Good times, good vibes, good people // Sittin’ ’round a fire, gettin’ higher than a seagull // Every flip floppin’ day of the week // Yeah, it’s a party on the beach”

Kelley brings the good vibes across this entire album, but there are a few songs that are very personal to him, including “Sunburnt,” “Don’t Take Much,” and the album’s closer “Florida Boy Forever.” “Sunburnt” sounds like a true story about their relationship. They met by the water, fell in love by the water, and celebrated their marriage by the water. In “Don’t Take Much,” he reflects on his seven years of marriage, realizing that all he needs is her, some sand, and a blanket full of stars above them. In the final track, driven by banjo, he discusses what growing up in Ormond Beach was like; catching crayfish and playing baseball. Although he had to leave to pursue his career and see the world, he knows that he’ll never stray too far from his roots.

“Carolina, Mississippi, always keep that sunshine with me // Sure as waves crash on the shore, I’ll be a Florida boy forever, I know”

If you like conflict in music, you won’t get it on this album. However, listeners can learn a lot about Kelley on these seventeen tracks. Since Florida Georgia Line burst into country music in the early 2010s, Hubbard has been the predominant voice on most of their songs, especially on their last two albums. It was nice to hear Kelley be the center of attention for a change.

Maybe one day, we’ll see Kelley on the road as a solo artist. His tropical presence would match up perfectly with artists such as Kenny Chesney or Jake Owen.  For now, Kelley and Hubbard will tour as Florida Georgia Line this fall on their I Love My Country Tour with Russell Dickerson, Lauren Alaina, and Redferrin. For tickets, head to their website.

Country Swag Picks:

  1. Boat Names
  2. Sunburnt
  3. By Boat
  4. Made By The Water
  5. Sunday Service In The Sand
Brian Kelley's new album, 'Sunshine State of Mind' is out now, June 25th

Brian Kelley’s new album, ‘Sunshine State of Mind’ is out now, June 25th

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Sunshine State of Mind is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.