From the moment Kane Brown’s Experiment begins, you can tell that something is different. The identity he’s established for himself with his previous work remains, but he’s a gained a maturity that makes for a strong album that lives up to its namesake comprised by themes of romance, loneliness and self-growth. The first indication of this development is the album’s swampy opening track, “Baby Come Back to Me,” where he takes on the persona of a man begging for a second chance. The stormy song sets the tone for the album’s bold nature, one where Brown is unafraid to take chances and tackle tough topics.
Nothing proves this more than “American Bad Dream.” Brown is one of the few country artists brave enough to take on social injustices of the modern world and make a statement in the form of a song. Brown doesn’t hold back in his awareness of the severity of world events, starting the song with the gut punch, “now you gotta take a test in a bullet proof vest, scared to death that you might get shot.” His goal is not to make the listener feel comfortable, but rather explain to them how the world looks from the perspective of a young person trying to navigate it. “I’m becoming numb to all of this tragedy” is a harsh reality to face, but one Brown is courageous enough to confront.
Brown remains in the vein of vulnerability with the honest “Work.” Though he’s only been married a matter of weeks, you wouldn’t know it based on the maturity he embodies on the song that reads like an open letter to his wife Katelyn Jae that he’s letting fans listen in on. He’s blunt about the trials that come with marriage, calling on memories from his past to tell the story. “I’ve seen the things that happen, when one side self destructs, I’ve seen the beautiful madness, when things erupt,” an observation he soulfully carries over into his vow that he’ll be unwavering in the face of such obstacles.
He offers a romantic gesture with “Good As You,” sharing why his wife is a woman he’s willing to stand behind. He uses the country meets doo-wop style song to describe a woman with a “heart of gold,” recognizing how she cares for the loved ones in her life from her mother to her husband. “The way you light up any room girl, you’re what this world should be,” he praises. He continues to show off his sensitive side on “Homesick,” offering insight into what it feels like to be in an unfamiliar place surrounded by people who adore you, but all the while he’s thinking about the person he loves that’s miles away.
Ultimately, Brown is gutsier on Experiment, using a dozen songs to break down walls and bear more sides of himself. There’s a lot of soul that lives in the project; you hear it in Brown’s voice and feel it in his lyrics. Experiment finds the breakthrough star branching out sonically and lyrically, taking command of his voice, whether bravely facing adversity or expressing sincerity when talking about his wife and their life together. Brown brings a sense of strength to his storytelling, which contributes to the larger picture of country music. It’s interesting that people often question if Brown is “country,” because the moment you hear his voice and listen to his story, you realize he couldn’t be anything else.