chase, except Gilbert is behind the wheel, singing Move it over Bo Duke. “Hell On Wheels” is followed up with another song about throwing rules to the wind, “Bendin' The Rules & Breakin' The Law.”
The album's first single, “Kick It In The Sticks,” is a welcome to the country song that tells a city slicker how country folks have a good time. The song has a driving hard rock edge and is made to blast from your vehicle with the windows rolled down. “Country Must Be Country Wide,” co-written by Gilbert, Mike Dekle, a songwriter based out of Athens, Georgia with hits like “Don't Love Make A Diamond Shine,” and “Size Matters” to his credit, and Colt Ford, another Georgia native making waves in country music, is all about the realization that 'country' is not just contained to the south with the proclamation that It ain't where, it's how you live.
Just as the listener starts to think Halfway To Heaven is an album chocked full of rocking beats and party anthems, Gilbert throws a curve ball and shows his softer side. “My Kind of Crazy” is a from the heart ballad about a girl who likes to steal both his guitar and the covers and begs to drive his truck that is just his brand of crazy while “Fall Into Me” is about taking the chance to fall in love.
“Them Boys” is another co-write with Dekle and Ford about 'those boys' that ride up and down Main Street with their music turned up and not a care in the world. It is a more mainstream sounding track that ends with 'them boys' reminiscing about days gone by while sitting around the wood stove in the hardware store. The album is dedicated to Brantley's grandfather and it's worth wondering if “Them Boys” is, at least in some way, about him.
The two standout tracks on this album are not the rockin' good time cuts or the heartfelt ballads however. They are tracks about loss, grief, and finding God.
“Halfway To Heaven” is an autobiographical track about Gilbert's own halfway to heaven experience. After an accident nearly claimed his life, Gilbert turned his life around and this track is a personal testament of faith and finding God. Inside the album's jacket are photographs of the accident that nearly claimed his life, displayed just below the lyrics of “Halfway To Heaven.”
“Saving Amy” is the other standout track. This time, Gilbert sings about a friend who lost his life the night he proposed to his girlfriend, Amy. The song takes the point of view of the friend, watching Amy from Heaven as she grieves. Backed by strings, the song is a powerful testament of love and faith that ends with Amy and her fiancé reunited at the gates of Heaven.
Gilbert has co-writer credit on all twelve tracks on Halfway To Heaven and has worked with an impressive assortment of songwriters for this album, including Ford, Dekle, Rhett Akins, and Jeremy Spillman. The album is an assortment of mainstream country tracks, rock-tinged cuts that push the envelope and heartfelt ballads. Brantley Gilbert may not be a household name yet, but he will be. Pick up a copy of Halfway To Heaven and remember Gilbert's name – he is well on his way to being country music's next Georgia-bred star.
Brantley Gilbert: 'Halfway To Heaven' – Album Review
In recent years, Georgia has been a hot bed for country artists, turning out Sugarland, Luke Bryan, and Jason Aldean, to name a few. Brantley Gilbert, a native of Jefferson, Georgia, is the latest artist out of the Peach State to set his sites on country music stardom. With the release of his second album, Halfway to Heaven, Gilbert has proven that he has what it takes to become a household name.
Halfway to Heaven kicks off with the outlaw anthem “Hell On Wheels.” About running moonshine, fast cars, and evading the cops, “Hell On Wheels” plays out like a modern-day Dukes of Hazzard car