Brantley Gilbert; Jess Franklin; The Atom Brothers; Jonathan Waggoner
Number of Discs
47m : 46s
Album Notes and Credits
Personnel: Brantley Gilbert (vocals, acoustic guitar); The Atom Brothers (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, background vocals); Dann Huff, Jonathan Waggoner (acoustic guitar); Jess Franklin (electric guitar, slide guitar, dobro, Hammond b-3 organ, background vocals); Davis Causey, John Merlino (electric guitar); Dan Dugmore (steel guitar); A.J. Adams (dobro); Andy Carlson (violin, viola); Jane Van Voorhis (cello); Randall Bramblett (piano, organ); Will Doughty (piano); Ben Sims , Gerry Hansen (drums); Brandon Hicks, Rachel Farley, Tom Ryan (background vocals).
Recording information: Blackbird Studios, Nashville, TN; Chase Park Transduction, Athens, GA; Earthworks Studio, Newark, OH; John Keane Studio, Athens, GA; Studio 1093, Athens, GA.
Photographer: Lyn Sengupta.
It wouldn't be out of line to call Brantley Gilbert a country rocker or an outlaw country artist, but don't let those terms conjure nostalgic images of Willie and Waylon in your head, because they mean something different when applied to Gilbert's generation of Nashville rebels. For one thing, he's nobody's cowboy -- in an industry where image tells all, Gilbert's leather jacket, motorcycle, and close-shaved cranium make him look more likely to pal around with Rancid than with Tim McGraw, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. While Gilbert has cited the influence of fellow Georgians R.E.M. and the B-52's, these inspirations are inaudible on his second album, Halfway to Heaven. A more accurate assessment of his musical roots is made on his Southern pride anthem "Kick It In the Sticks," where he shouts out "AC/DC, Hank, Skynyrd, and George Strait" over huge, hard-rocking riffs worthy of the first name on that list. Exactly which Hank he's referring to is uncertain, because with an artist like Gilbert, it's just as likely to be the second or even the third. Of course, the equally tough-sounding "Country Must Be Country Wide" does indeed find Gilbert singing about radio stations "playin' Cash, Hank, Willie and Waylon," but the biting rock feel running throughout much of Halfway to Heaven suggests that those are bad-ass icons emblazoned on his personal Mt. Rushmore more than direct musical influences. Granted, romantic ballads like "My Kind of Crazy" and "Fall into Me" are the kind of tunes that seem tailor-made for the top of the country charts, and they're obviously a part of what Gilbert is about, but everything else about Halfway to Heaven seems to mark Gilbert as a rock & roll roughneck, albeit one with the requisite soft underbelly. ~ J. Allen