Album review: Kristian Bush – 52 – New Blue

Kristian Bush new album

New Blue is Kristian Bush’s third release this year and the third in his four-album project, 52. Cait Watters takes a spin to find out if she’ll be in the pink or feeling blue…

New Blue sees Bush hit a hat-trick of quality releases.

For those unfamiliar with the premise, 52 is a series of albums that are being released to mark Bush’s 52nd birthday. Each is different in theme and/or vibe, something that I really appreciate. It cements what I, a longtime fan of Bush, already knew – he’s one heck of a versatile performer.

ATLxBNA took us to Atlanta by way of Nashville, and In The Key of Summer to summer. New Blue transports us back to the ‘90s and it’s a nostalgia fest – though, not initially, Bush’s plan for the project.

“While looking for a way to group my songs for this next release, I stumbled on a truth. I found a New Blue. I found that the music and attitude, lyrics and chords, and the foundation of me walking out onto rock stages in the ‘90s, was woven into every Sugarland song, every solo song, every production and every co-write since. Many of the songs on this project feel like songs I would have put out in 1995.”

The opening track, indeed, feels like a step back in time, and a step into a ‘Diamond Motel’. A track about finding beauty and making the best out of what you got, through means of a motel that’s not perfect but will do. The track clings to the previous album’s chill vibes, and if you had a pool – even this motel’s one, with broken signage floating in it – you’ll want to laze by it and relax with this tune. It feels like a perfect, seamless trip between the two albums – there’s going to be something so satisfying when able to listen to all four releases consecutively.

Then it’s a trip to another state, ‘Sailing To Arizona’ with Chris Barron (Spin Doctors). Close your eyes while this one starts, you might think this is some ‘90s boyband track (not a bad thing at all!), complete with poppy clap beat, before it kicks into another summer-tinged, country infused rebellious anthem of wanting to escape and leave everything behind. Barron pairs with Bush perfectly, you’d be forgiven for thinking they performed together as the day job.

There’s other collabs on this record, too, which are firsts for the 52 project. Dark Water, the lesser known of Bush’s bands, joins him for ‘When’s The Last Time’, a foot tapper singalong song with one hell of a guitar solo – another reminder that there’s a lot more to the man than just merely the fantastic Sugarland. There’s no Jennifer Nettles on this record, though, but more fine team-ups can be found here with Amie Miriello and Stephanie Lambring on ‘The Great American Scream Machine’ and ‘New Girl’, and ‘Crazy That Way’ respectively – ‘New Girl’ is especially great, Bush and Miriello’s vocals blending wonderfully.

‘Somebody Promised You’ is my favourite on the album, as it features a rare bitter Bush. Emotion seeps through raw vocals, a crashing track, angry that he’s stuck in life and not moving forward. We tend to think of the man as laidback and chilled, his songs typically carefree anthems. This is a refreshing change of pace – the f-word that slips out as shocking as it feels right. A different side of him.

Closer ‘Put A Dent In It’ is a rousing way to round things off, with a piercing electric guitar and an energetic chorus. About letting go about the need to be perfect and second guess, it’s a nice reminder to be easy on yourself, to take life as it is. If that indeed is how Bush lives his life then he’s crushing it – because New Blue is continuing his trend of putting out pretty damn perfect records.

  1. Diamond Motel
  2. Sailing to Arizona (feat. Chris Barron)
  3. When’s The Last Time (feat. Dark Water)
  4. The Great American Scream Machine (feat. Amie Miriello)
  5. Give Me A Road
  6. Crazy That Way (feat. Stephanie Lambring)
  7. Way With Words
  8. Man Like Me
  9. Somebody Promised You
  10. Mirror Behind The Bar
  11. New Girl (feat. Amie Miriello
  12. Put A Dent In It

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