Cait Watters has been listening to “52 – ATL x BNA”, the first of a series of releases to come throughout 2022 from KRISTIAN BUSH
Kristian Bush isn’t like most people.
Most people would consider taking things easier when they hit their fifties. Bush, however, is doing the complete opposite, and celebrated his 52nd birthday by releasing 52 – ATL x BNA, the first of four albums that, combined, will have – you probably guessed it – 52 songs. It’s a pretty big project but if anyone is up to the challenge then it’s Bush.
It’s a pretty cool project too, as these albums look set to represent Bush’s life. 52 – ATL x BNA, as those familiar with airport codes will know, signifies Atlanta and Nashville, two airports that he’s traveled between a lot in his life – two places the divorced father has called home.
‘Somewhere between the horns, the pedal steel and the background singers, you get a glimpse at what it’s like to make country music from Atlanta,’ Bush shares. ‘It’s like putting Lego pieces together.’
Instead of putting together 321 little plastic pieces to form a miniature Eiffel Tower, Bush brings us 10 songs to combine his two worlds. The result is a delicious blend of raw Nashville storytelling and Atlanta’s vibrant R&B vibes, a mix that you’ll find yourself wanting to taste over and over again.
We’re welcomed to the project by horns and drums on ‘Everybody Gotta Go Home’. It’s a lovely welcome and it makes you want to strap in and (to steal the title of a Sugarland album) enjoy the ride as Bush sings about accepting the past and moving forward.
And I did enjoy the ride, appreciating the rawness of the following ‘After The Wine Wears Off’, a bluesy, self-deprecating number where Bush is brutally honest with a romantic partner – he’s nothing special, he’s just ‘some guitar pickin’ man’. This sort of honesty is later seen on ‘Heart of Yours’, where Bush realizes that he can’t fix a broken relationship. It’s heartbreaking but it’s real, and it’s beautiful to see a vulnerable side being so freely expressed. Saying that, it’s got a lovely funk to it all, a nice bass and gospel-ly chorus. You can get a groove on while Bush sings about a couple of broken hearts – and I love that. That’s what really underpins this album. A sense of positivity. A relationship has broken down, yes, and while lyrically we wallow in sadness, musically we don’t. Just like the opener set out for us, Bush is pushing on, moving onwards.
‘Mansion’ and ‘Unbroken’ are these steps forward; home and healing, respectively. ‘Let me be your private drive, let me be the place you hide,’ Bush sings on the former, reeling off things he can be for someone. It’s not out of desperation but, rather, optimism. ‘A new house on the hill,’ is what he wants to be. A fresh start. ‘Golden statues, lush green lawn’, the big things and the little things. Bush wants to be it all, wants to experience all facets of love. It’s just wonderfully written which, really, is no surprise given it’s written by himself and Liz Rose.
More positivity and grooves with ‘World Ain’t As Bad (As You Think)’, as Bush counters each bad scenario with a good one. Bad things happen but the grass is always greener somewhere. A nice little beat joins him, some brass and some guitars on a prime singalong candidate. Good vibes only on this one.
‘Tennessee Plates’ is another great song (they all are, in all honesty) and perhaps the most explicit in terms of the overall theme of the album. ‘God bless where I’m going, God bless my mistakes, God bless the road that’s rolling underneath these Tennessee plates,’ Bush sings, nodding to a rocky past but he continues forward, showing no desire to slap on the brakes – which is just as well, given he’s got three more albums to get cracking on with.
This is 52, and it sounds fantastic.
Kristian Bush – 52 – ATL x BNA – Track Listing
1. Everybody Gotta Go Home (Kristian Bush, Taylor Davis, Steve Bogard)
2. After The Wine Wears Off (Kristian Bush, Brett James, Andrew DeRoberts)
3. Mansion (Kristian Bush, Liz Rose)
4. Unbroken (Kristian Bush, Andrew DeRoberts, Bob DiPero)
5. I’m With You (Kristian Bush, JT Harding)
6. Tennessee Plates (Kristian Bush, Andrew DeRoberts, Rodney Clawson)
7. Heart Of Yours (Kristian Bush, Jeffrey East, Dean Alexander)
8. World Ain’t As Bad As You Think (Luke Dick, Ben Hayslip, Chase McGill)
9. Gasoline (Kristian Bush, Bobby Pinson)
10. I’m Coming Around (Kristian Bush, Stephen Wrabel, JT Harding)