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'Can't Say I Ain't Country' review: Florida Georgia Line's latest is well-crafted, but a bit too calculated

Florida Georgia Line's "Can't Say I Ain't Country"

Florida Georgia Line's "Can't Say I Ain't Country" on Big Machine Label Group Records. Photo Credit: Big Machine Label Group Records

FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE

Can’t Say I Ain’t Country

BOTTOM LINE Trying to re-establish themselves as “Y’all Boys”

Florida Georgia Line protests a lot on its new “Can’t Say I Ain’t Country” (Big Machine) album.

“You can say you don’t like my truck,” Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley sing in the title track. “You can say that I talk and I dress all funny, but you can’t say I ain’t country.”

That’s the kind of projection and misdirection we see a lot these days. While few people complain about trucks or joke about the way Nashville folks talk or dress, there are probably way more who question — rightly or wrongly — how country Florida Georgia Line is.

After all, this is the duo who teamed up with pop star Bebe Rexha for “Meant to Be,” a song that topped the country charts for 50 weeks with its mix of pop ballad, hip-hop beats and country twang. They have collaborated with the Backstreet Boys, EDM producer Alesso and actress-turned-pop-singer Hailee Steinfeld. And their breakthrough hit was a remix of “Cruise” with rapper Nelly.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that, but walking away from it, now that people are starting to tire of the “bro country” domination they helped build, seems a bit calculated. The current single “Y’all Boys” hammers home the Florida Georgia Line talking points, ribbing people who lock their doors and declaring, “You mess with one of us, you get us all boys.” It doesn’t sound organic. It sounds test-marketed and political.

“Can’t Say I Ain’t Country” is well-crafted, especially when Florida Georgia Line adopts bits of alt-folk into “Simple.” But the craftsmanship is marred with weird ideas like the collaboration with R&B singer Jason Derulo for the country-soul mash-up “Women,” an ode to “beautiful women, we’re all better off with them right by our side.”

Sadly, that future single will get more airplay than Grammy-winning women like Kacey Musgraves, who struggle to get played by their side on country radio.

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