Beginning with 2011’s “Tailgates & Tanlines,” headed by the hit single “Country Girl,” Bryan set himself apart as the mainstream star most keen to enlarge country’s sound by borrowing happily from hip hop and dance music.

The outreach met with success: “Tailgates” sold more than 2 million copies, while Bryan’s follow up, “Crash My Bash,” did even better, ending 2013 as that year’s third-biggest-selling album, right behind discs by Justin Timberlake and Eminem.

It’s difficult to envision Thomas Rhett bragging that he modeled his upcoming album on the sound of Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” without Bryan first throwing a bit of Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty” into his headlining performance last year at Stagecoach.

you’ll be able to feel the result of those heel-nippers on Bryan’s new record, “Kill the Lights,” which opens with two songs seemingly designed to demonstrate he’s still outside in front: “Kick the Dust Up,” a swaggering country rap jam about turning a cornfield into a celebration, and also the slick title track with its disco strings and “Billie Jean” beat.

Never a specially adaptive vocalist, sounds even more wooden than usual in these tracks; for the very first time, this 39-year old father of two seems a bit obstructed , which threatens to topple the entire enterprise.

The singer is a lot more convincing in the record’s slower, quieter tunes, including “Strip It Down,” a ballad with actual sensuality – “Let Us whisper, let us don’t talk / Baby, leave my Tshirt in the hall” – and the stunning “To the Moon and Back,” which he said lately on Facebook “Could be considered a wedding tune down the road.”.

“All you keep trying to do is slow it down,” he sings, “Keep trying to make the good times last as long as you could.” On among his previous records, Bryan would’ve come up with a means to do that – another tractor ride, perhaps, or one more pull from his jar filled with clear.

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