Brian Kelly — BK’s Wave Pack — EP (Review)
As I have began to dive into listening to whatever I find that seems interesting, I have been surprised by some of my findings. I will preface by saying I can not stand Florida-George Line. I think their music is some of the most annoying to grace bro-country in recent times. No shame if you enjoy their work, but I find it painful (“Cruise” is the worst of all). I also fault them for opening yet another country music roof-top bar off Broadway that drunken bachelorettes and dude-bros can make visiting downtown a living hell. Now that I have that off my chest, I can say I didn’t know Brian Kelly was the Florida of Florida-Georgia Line. One of the perks of going into these artist’s music blind is that I have no biases or preconceived notions about their work before I give them a listen. All I saw was a beachy country EP that reminded me of Kenny Chesney’s island themed music of his later career. The honest truth of my listen to the four tracks on this project is… I enjoyed it. Sure, the tropes of recent country are there: beer, partying, and psuedo-religious tones. I think with the overall sound of EP, it works nicely.
“Beach Cowboy” opens the EP in full Kenny Chesney island country vibes. We get the full country boy goes the beach here. The song doesn’t try to be deep and seems fairly self aware of its pure celebratory nature. Kelly’s out on his bike ready to hit the waves. The chorus was made for day at the Florida beach or any lake in mid June, “Yeah, they call me beach cowboy (beach cowboy)/ Sand cruiser fat tire turquoise (tire turquoise)/ Got a shark tooth on my bolo (bolo)/ Saddle up, paddle up my YOLO (YOLO)/ Yippe-yo-ki-yay, it’s your boy BK going John Wayne on these waves”. Although, the YOLO line makes me eye roll, it’s fun. It doesn’t have the weird infusion of trap drums or snaps/claps that most pop country seems to have these days. Much like the second verse commands, get yourself a margarita and just have fun. One of the things I found the most enjoyable about this track is that it actually has a true country twang to it that doesn’t feel put on or forced.
“Made By The Water” continues our island adventure as we get a description vision of laying in the hammock as the sea breeze comes in and steel drums sing. Being made by the water is simply feeling like you’re in heaven out at the beach, on the dock, or on the open waters. The entire song gives off the feeling of being young and in your own paradise to release your inhibitions. This isn’t any clearer than in the song’s chorus, “Made by the water, right on the beach/ Salt in the air, sand on my feet/ Soul of a sailor, born for a boat/ My tie-dyed girl got this heart floating/ The way that it’s going / I know when the sun sinks down like a bobber/ There’s gonna be some love made by the water”. You don’t need to look much deeper than the surface level at the lyrics here. As Brian says, get rum drunk and enjoy yourself a time at the beach.
“Party On The Beach” is continuing our theme strong. As you can tell from the songs’ titles, you don’t need to guess to much too much on the content. We conjure up the image of cups of spirits in hand, grilling hot dogs, and trucks in the sand. At this point, I do wish there was a bit more depth to the songs than just, “Hey, we’re at the beach let’s party!”, which is kind of starting to wear a little thin. That said, it’s still a fun song that’s ready out of the box of any summer pool, lake, or beach party you are planning to have. With a chorus like, “Yeah, it’s a party on the beach/ A little bit salty, a little bit sweet/ Watching that sunset showing out from a front row seat/ Good times, good vibes, good people/ Sittin’ ‘round a fire, gettin’ higher than a seagull/ Every flip floppin’ day of the week”, I feel it would be sacrilegious to not play this at your summer shindig. With its country island vibe, I think I prefer this song over “Made By The Water” for its carefree, fun-loving nature.
“Sunday Service In The Sand” is the final track on the EP and definitely where the typical tropes wear really thin on me. The title alone made me eye roll a little bit. I don’t see anything wrong with a good spiritual track involving the Holy Spirit, I just don’t feel it here at all. The opening lines thank God for the beauty around him, “Sunday service in the sand/ God, I’m thankful for this land/ I see You as far as I can see/ Words can’t paint what you mean to me”. Where I totally lose him is lines like, “Teal water sunrise, gulf side view/ I start my day on a tailgate pew, yeah/ Seagulls singing them holy hymns/ Oh god, I love to sing along with them”. This is where I get the cheese that only more pandering country acts seem to use in current days. You have the formula or religion, beer, beach, and this bro feeling that just leave me feeling icky. If it felt a bit more sincere and had a bit more depth I might feel a bit differently. Honestly, you can skip this song. I find if you want some gospel country, look to Stapleton or Gabe Lee or something really good and honest. I think Kelly should stick to the party tracks.
I’m fairly pleased by journey through Brian Kelly’s EP. I do enjoy the more country based sound that he is going for in these tracks. The novelty of the beach party nature of all these tracks begins to wear a little thin towards the third track. If you came here for depth, you will most likely be disappointed. If you come in looking for something fun and carefree, I think you will enjoy your experience. I definitely disliked “Sunday Service In The Sand” as it just feels too bro-country and bandering to be taken seriously. Brian released a full length album following this EP’s release titled Sunshine State of Mind June 2021. After looking at the song titles off the album, I feel I might be in for much of the same on his full length release. I might take a look at it, but I think this EP is a great consolidation of county summer tracks for me. It will be interesting to see what his solo work will bring. I would love for him to stray more from Florida-Georgia Line’s bro-country sound, which I find to be extremely stale at this point. My favorites here:
- “Beach Cowboy”
- “Party On The Beach”
My overall rating: 4.5 out of 10 cowboys at the beach…