Can't Say I Ain't Country

by: Florida Georgia Line

Florida Georgia Line begins Can't Say I Ain't Country -- their fourth album and the one following "Meant to Be," their record-smashing 2017 crossover hit duet with Bebe Rexha -- with country comedian Brother Jervel ranting about how Tyler Hubbard is still country despite the fact that Tyler Hubbard's got himself a Tesla. Hubbard and his partner Brian Kelley follow Jervel's babble with "Can't Say I Ain't Country," which spins this sentiment into something funnier and hookier, not to mention a whole lot less defensive than the opening skit. Defensiveness doesn't suit the easy-rolling Florida Georgia Line, not when they're the biggest thing in country music in 2019 -- so big, they're essentially pop stars. Ever since their debut, FGL have courted that audience -- think of the Nelly remix of "Cruise" -- but Can't Say I Ain't Country finds the tables turning: now pop comes to the duo instead of the reverse. Bebe Rexha may not be found here, but R&B crooner Jason Derulo is, singing a valentine to "Women" -- no specific woman, they love them all -- a sign of how Can't Say I Ain't Country trades upon a pancultural pop that could easily slide onto any play list you'd like. Despite this deliberate amorphous sound, there's a reason why FGL front-loads Can't Say I Ain't Country with a preemptive protest of their country roots, then peppers the album with odes to small towns and good old boys. Sometimes, this can cause a political dissonance; when they're palling around with Jason Aldean, they brag that you "Can't Hide Red," but left to their own devices, they're sentimental saps, singing "this whole world would be a whole lot better place if we all just embrace the fact that people are different." Set this aside, and Can't Say I Ain't Country is a successful blend of the cosmopolitan and country, sounding as assured on soulful slow jams and percolating crossover pop as it does on the breakneck twang of "Y'all Boys," a duet with their protégé HARDY. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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