Album Review: Thomas Rhett’s ‘Life Changes’

Thomas Rhett knows a thing or two about life changes. In just three months the singer went from a family of two with wife, Lauren, to four after adopting Willa Gray from Uganda and having a child of their own with newborn Ada James. As a result, all of the ups and downs of his family and professional life are showcased in Rhett’s third studio album, fittingly titled Life Changes.

The 14-track release has Rhett doing what he does best: blending sounds from the country, rock, R&B and even EDM genres for a versatile release. Rhett co-wrote 10 of the album’s 14 tracks and produced the project alongside Dann Huff, Jesse Frasure, Julian Bunetta and Joe London. Throughout Life Changes, Rhett proves to be both a powerful storyteller and an artist willing to take risks as he continues to push boundaries with his music.

Life Changes kicks off with Rhett’s latest No. 1 single, “Craving You.” Written by Dave Barnes and Julian Bunetta, “Craving You” is an undeniably catchy country-pop tune with infectious ’80s production. This bold and anthemic sound is further helped by Maren Morris’ pristine harmonies on the track. Another song, “Renegades,” maintains an arena-ready sound as the song recalls classic hits by John Mellencamp and Tom Petty. Meanwhile, its updated production and sing-along chorus has all the makings of another timeless hit for the singer/songwriter.

Throughout much of Life Changes, Rhett gives listeners a glimpse into his love story with his wife. Songs like upbeat new single “Unforgettable” reveal a night where the two transitioned from childhood friends to lovers. Additionally, the title track looks back on his dreams of becoming a songwriter in college before popping the question to Lauren when everyone around him urged him to wait. “I bought a ring and she said I do / But everybody else said, ‘Man you’re 22 what you tryin’ to prove? / Hey, why don’t you wait’ / Because I’ve been waiting on her since the second grade,” he croons.

The album’s sweetest song comes in the form of album closer “Grave” where Rhett sings of how his wife is his everything. An adequate follow-up to “Die A Happy Man,” the stripped down ballad has a gospel element with hand-snapped rhythms and backing vocalists that embody gospel singers. “When the good Lord calls me home and this life is through / I may be six feet deep but I’ll still be lovin’ you,” he sings on the chorus.

While Rhett’s sentimental side is showcased on Life Changes so is his swagger. The singer proves that he can hold his own with artists like Bruno Mars, the Weeknd and even Drake on several R&B influenced tracks. The sultry beats of “Gateway Love,” bombastic rhythms of “Leave Right Now” and impressive falsetto on “When You Look Like That” showcase his natural ability to segue effortlessly from genre to genre while leaving his distinct mark on each song.
Additional highlights include the doo-wop throwback of “Sweetheart” and heartbreaking piano ballad “Marry Me.” On the latter, Rhett sings of a girl who has her whole wedding planned out. At first, it seems like he’s the groom but as the story develops there’s a twist. It’s on this song and the nostalgic “Sixteen,” where Rhett sings of being 15 while dreaming of driving the open road, that his prowess as a songwriter is best showcased. On “Sixteen” each verse finds Rhett wishing he was one year older until he turns 25. Then, instead of going full speed ahead he looks back on his life and reminisces of his youth — something we can all relate to.

His most ambitious release yet, Life Changes has something for every listener. As Rhett embraces new sounds and unpredictable production, he also allows a closer look into his personal life, all while showcasing some of the best songwriting within the country genre. With songs that can both strike a chord and start a party, Life Changes proves that Rhett is a force to be reckoned with.