Album Review – Canaan Smith’s ‘Bronco’ is One of the Worst Country Albums of the Year

Canaan Smith Bronco

The amount of bad music produced by mainstream country in 2015 is staggering. I’ve lost track of how many bad reviews we’ve had to write. But a lot of the bad music has come via singles, as that’s the focus of many artists today. This just isn’t the case with country artists, but artists across all of music. The concept of the album is a lost art in many cases. Despite artists not caring about albums as a whole as much, many of them pack just enough good album cuts to make it mediocre. But every once in a while there’s an album that forgets this and simply releases a bunch of bad music. That is the case with the new album from Canaan Smith titled Bronco. Smith is a relative newcomer to the genre and 2015 has really been his break out year. His second career single “Love You Like That” is currently in the top five of the Billboard Country Airplay chart and he landed an opening gig on Dierks Bentley’s tour. I’m not sure what propelled him to this level of success so quickly, but I can assure you it’s certainly not the music from his debut album Bronco.

Bronco kicks off with “Good Kinda Bad,” a song that uses the word good a ridiculous amount of times. To be exact, Smith utters it 27 times. Doesn’t that seem a little overkill on the word, “good”? The song itself it like Jason Aldean’s “Burnin’ It Down” meets Brantley Gilbert’s “My Baby’s Guns ‘N Roses.” The usual tropes about alcohol and women are thrown in too. This is a forgettable attempt at the sexy R&B country trend. Canaan Smith does spoken word on “Stompin’ Grounds” and it couldn’t be any worse. Can this spoke word trend just die already? Look what you’ve done, Jake Owen! From the production to Smith’s voice, the entire arrangement for this song is just annoying and weird. I can’t even describe it, other than it’s terrible. The lyrics are blatantly checklist and the theme is small town stomping grounds, the most overused theme in country music.

Smith’s current single, “Love You Like That,” is next. Derek already reviewed this song and I completely agree with his sentiment on it: Overall, “Love You Like That” is just a boring, uninspired country love song. Not one ounce of creativity was put into this song from the production to the writing. It’s not terrible and there are certainly worse songs that have been released this year. Yet, the song is far from good. By the way you should read the full review on it, as Derek conducts a hilarious hypothetical Q&A on the song. This is followed by “Hole In A Bottle,” which at least tries to be country, but once again the lyrics are uncreative and unimaginative. Jeans, boots and drinking excessively are the tropes this song is centered on. Like we haven’t heard this song before. The instrumentation isn’t bad on this song, but the lyrics completely bog down this song. Get used to me repeating the latter part of that last sentence.

Joe Nichols has “Yeah.” Easton Corbin has “Yup.” And Smith has “Stuck.” Anytime I see a one word titled song from a bro artist, I get weary and for good reason. The song entirely centers on this one word and becomes an annoying ear worm. “Stuck” is no different, as this word is sang 59 times throughout the song. Holy. Crap. If this gets released as a single, I guarantee it will make my worst country songs of 2015 list. I just don’t understand this obsession with these type of songs and how someone can get actual enjoyment out of these torturous songs. Smith, like Jake Owen on “Real Life,” tries his hand at late 90s pop on “One Of Those.” The reason I say late 90s pop is because of the production. The song is about a man who brags to a girl he’s a walking, talking clichéd southern boy you hear about in every checklist country song. He wears a ball cap, blues jeans, drinks beer and was raised on the Bible. How is this impressive to a girl again?

Just when I thought Smith couldn’t get any worse, then comes “Mad Love.” The first indicator this song is just bad is the R&B, pop influenced production that every mainstream country artists is trying their hand at. But when this song takes a turn from bad to truly horrendous is the chorus. Just look at these lyrics:

We got that mad love
Haters gonna hate us
Yeah, you and me together
Some kinda crazy
But that’s us
Doin’ our thing
Throwing more gas on the fire
Sure as the rain
Rolling off of this roof
You’ll get her crying
Like Johnny and June
We got that mad love
Can’t stop this mad love

Are you kidding me? The “haters gonna hate” line? Can it get more childish? Also I thought Taylor Swift put a trademark on that line. Regardless, this song instantly loses any credibility and respect once this chorus is uttered. This is another worst country song of the year candidate.

“Love At First” is another cheesy, laughable attempt at R&B influenced country by Smith. I don’t think Aldean even had this many terrible R&B styled songs on his 2014 album. Smith does his best attempt at a sexy voice on this song and all I want to do is laugh. He doesn’t have the talent to pull off a romantic song. It also doesn’t help that the lyrics for this song are not romantic in any way. It’s like something out of a bad teenage rom-com. Smith fellates America on “American Muscle.” He praises the American spirit and American products and I’m just pretty much checked out on this album. I will give him credit for actually giving the production on this song some life and making it somewhat tolerable. It’s pretty bad that this is one of the better songs on the entire album.

More R&B bullshit is on “Two Lane Road.” Smith tries to sing high-pitched and sounds like Justin Bieber before puberty. On top of that Smith does more terrible spoken word that makes me cringe. And of course this is uttered several times in the song:

Ro-oo-oo-oad
Ro-oo-oo-oad
Ro-oo-oo-oad

Oh by the way this could also be a candidate for Country Perspective’s Worst Country Song of 2015 award. I think Smith is starting to give RaeLynn and Kelsea Ballerini a run for the money for our worst of the year awards.

This truly terrible album mercifully comes to an end with “Bronco.” And it looks like Smith has pulled a Chase Rice here. Just like Rice’s 2014 album Ignite The Night, the final song and title track of this album is easily the best on the entire album. Smith honors his late brother Nathaniel on this song, who died in a car crash. You can hear the emotion behind Smith and the lyrics on this song. Just like Rice’s “Jack Daniels & Jesus,” “Bronco” is a truly flabbergasting song, considering the ten songs that precede it are complete crap. If only there were more songs like this on the album because this is a true country song.

There isn’t much else to say about Bronco, other than it is a giant train wreck with the exception of one song. Canaan Smith took the most clichéd and tiring tropes and combined them with terrible, non-country production and instrumentation to give us an album that is spectacularly bad. What’s worse is that Smith had a hand in writing almost all of these songs. The only time he dug deep was on “Bronco.” I’ve reviewed a lot of bad music on Country Perspective, but this is the second-worst album I’ve ever reviewed here. The only one worse than this won Country Perspective’s 2014 Worst Album of the Year award. I thought Kelsea Ballerini’s The First Time was going to run away with the 2015 Worst Album of the Year award, but Canaan Smith just made this a two-person race. Avoid listening to Bronco at all costs. You can’t get much worse than this album.

Grade: 1/10

23 thoughts on “Album Review – Canaan Smith’s ‘Bronco’ is One of the Worst Country Albums of the Year

  1. Scotty J July 14, 2015 / 11:22 am

    And his record label just bought him a #1 radio song this week with a ridiculously artificial push. Looks so corrupt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott July 14, 2015 / 11:45 am

      Tell me about it! I’ve never seen such a hard push by a label to get a single to #1.

      Like

      • Nadia Lockheart July 14, 2015 / 3:13 pm

        Tragically, this will all but certainly be the new norm! =(

        What makes this exceptionally embarrassing is the fact that Canaan Smith’s single not only has spent about 50 weeks on the chart: it ALSO went recurrent at one point.

        It wasn’t long ago that Eric Paslay’s “Friday Night” had a bullshit vaulting to #1 on Mediabase, as was George Strait’s cringe-inducing “60 For 60” campaign (I don’t care how legendary George Strait is and how deserved his string of previous #1s were: that push was a complete abomination). And then, of course, Kelsea Ballerini’s final push to #1 a few weeks ago, as well as Tim McGraw’s quixotic insane push to #3 in ithe final week for “Diamond Rings & Old Barstools”.

        I think this is the new norm. I’m, unfortunately, willing to bet we can expect “Crushin’ It” (which has already surpassed its natural peak as is) to “magically” be vaulted to the Top Three in the coming weeks as well. I also bet Michael Ray’s current travesty will have a similar artificial boost the same week either Luke Bryan or Brantley Gilbert vye for #1 on Billboard.

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      • Scotty J July 14, 2015 / 3:26 pm

        This is a really troubling trend I think. It’s rather obvious what is in it for the record label and the performer; who doesn’t want a #1 single on their resume but the big question is what is in it for the radio stations. If things were operating correctly then these songs would not need to get these pushes they would just naturally rise to the top because of quality and demand from the listeners as determined by requests and sales and even callout research but that is not what is happening.

        So that leads one to ask what is in it for iHeart, Cumulus and the others to distort there playlists in an effort to manipulate the charts?

        This just looks so incredibly shady.

        Like

      • Scotty J July 14, 2015 / 3:38 pm

        One further point on this. Billboard’s Country Airplay chart now uses audience impressions to rank the songs as opposed to number of plays but that has not always been the case. Until 2004 they did use spins but then they had a mini scandal where some record pushers went a little far and got a number of stations to play certain songs over and over in the middle of the night in an effort to boost these songs spin totals and consequently achieve a higher chart peak. This practice allowed ‘If You Ever Stopped Loving Me’ by Montgomery Gentry and ‘Somebody’ by Reba McEntire to reach number one when they most likely would not have. This led Billboard to switch to impressions as they are harder to manipulate than plays.

        So the process can be corrupted.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Raymond July 14, 2015 / 11:25 am

    Do you guys just wish certain artist would move to another genre or what I am starting to think you guys want from some of them to like stop making music at all because you think Raelynn Kelsea Thomas Canaan are pardon my language but talentless it’s like at times you guys want these people to fail.

    Besides for some of these artists take some time out and look at how they are as people. Particularly watch Kelsea or Canaan when they find out their songs are number.1.

    You might not like Kelsea or Canaan’s music but it’s hard to root against someone if like with them to how nice they are as people.

    That’s why I don’t believe it’s right to root against an artist that is just wrong hoping people fail because if the artists I have mentioned before in countru

    Like

    • Josh Schott July 14, 2015 / 11:44 am

      Nobody wants anyone to fail and it’s ridiculous to insinuate or suggest this about Derek or myself. If we think a song sucks, we say it sucks. If we think a song is good, we say it’s good. Simple as that. An artist’s personality or niceness has zero influence on a review. You just can’t seem to handle brutal honesty. I don’t give passes to people for just being nice. That’s not what a music review is about. It’s about the music. That’s it. You can be the biggest asshole in the world, but if you’re making great music I’ll give props where it’s due.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Raymond July 14, 2015 / 12:06 pm

        Oh my gosh No! This is not what I’m saying but I mean at times put the review cap off. When you say this is garbage who could like this it’s like your wanting them to fail this is more of you then Derek (hence why I like Derek’s reviews). Harsh ha try brutal with these artists I mean that’s my interpratation of it I always try to find the good in any songs. Also I feel like with some not at all why yes they are more on the pop side they put some country and effort. Also just try and look online how they are as people. Song alone yes some deserving bashes but when you see as some are so humble and generous that it makes it hard too hate. Put the review cap off and just see how they are as people.

        I’m not assuming Derek for this at all. But I am gonna stop now before this turns into a Hunter Hayes 21 situation again.

        Like

        • Josh Schott July 14, 2015 / 12:54 pm

          I can’t “take the review cap off” with a review. Because you know it’s a review. These reviews aren’t indicative of what I think of them as people, only as artists. I’m sure Canaan and Kelsea are nice people from what I’ve read and seen of them, especially Kelsea as she seems sweet and kind. But that all gets put aside come review time. All my emotion for an artists gets put aside. Zac Brown Band are one of my favorites and I gave them one of them more negative reviews on their album Jekyll + Hyde this year. Also I think I do pretty good finding the good in songs and albums. I gave clear credit to “Bronco,” as it was a nice tribute to Canaan’s brother. There was nothing else I could praise on this album. I’m not giving him or anyone points for being good people. This isn’t kindergarten. They’re full grown adults in the public spotlight who have to deal with criticism. It comes with the job and they, along with their fans, have to deal with it.

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      • Raymond July 14, 2015 / 1:37 pm

        I didn’t mean take it off with a review I meant if you’re not reviewing the artist and at least acknowledge hey they seem like a nice person. Trust me if I review I do try to pug personal prefrence Note Kelsea and Carrie are exceptions. I guess as a fan if you’re like me it’s just difficult for me at times cause it questions should I be a fan still or are these guys right. That’s why I always try to reassure myself they know what they’re doing. I do think fans and reviewers think very diffrently hence why I see countless people defend Luke , FGL or Cole. Trust me Pulse is full of them or the people who don’t like Kacey or Jon Pardi there’s those people too. Trust me your review on 21 was talked about. Look I choose the road as fan for my faves because it’s hard for me to ever say stuff bad about Carrie. I do think fans that know the artists personally probably don’t ever wanna be harsh.

        Still wanna meet Carrie Underwood. Hey any news on her releasing new music.

        Also will you guys review like Kip Moore’s album or Maddie & Tae album. I think those 2 have the potential to be a mainstream honorable album of the year. Any expectations for those albums.

        Like

    • Derek Hudgin July 14, 2015 / 11:55 am

      To add to this, these are artists who are capable of much more. Back on my “Love You Like That” review, you’ll find me saying in the comments how I wish Canaan Smith wouldn’t be a one-hit wonder. Smith wrote a song called “Black Tears” which is a decent song about a stripper’s tough life. It’s a song with some more effort in the writing and composition than “LYLT” or “Mad Love.” Kelsea wrote “Secondhand Smoke” which I think is a well written song. “Peter Pan” and “First Time” aren’t that bad either when it comes to writing and composing a story within a song, in my opinion. Now, just because I don’t like the particular songs is subjective to my taste, but I can objectively admit that there’s effort put into songs like that.

      The problem (and it’s a bigger problem than just Smith and Ballerini) is that mainstream country’s culture is moving toward arena rock styles with beats to entertain a crowd and thoughtless hooks of simple rhymes and pop culture phrases to catch the attention of the young demographic. “I’m calling dibs” “haters gonna hate” etc. etc. It’s a musical trend in which labels and artists are dipping down toward in order to get as much airplay and fandom as possible. It’s entertainers vying for the same spotlight from the same fans rather than artists building fans through something deeper and more timeless.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Raymond July 14, 2015 / 12:18 pm

        Dang Derek I do agree a lot I think that is how it is for a lot of those but I do believe the artists don’t see that way. I feel like it’s those other writers that are going around the beat. I do hope to see Canaan or Kelsea expand they’re story telling. Both have a ton of potential. I do think if Kelsea’s album is successful enough I do hope to see her expand her writing. The detail in songs like Peter Pan or Secondhand Smoke are impressive I mean I don’t mind the fluff at times but I think Kelsea and Canaan who are pretty good singers should hopefully expand the writing and make it catchy. They have the catchy part down now well written baby steps mainstream.

        Oh I heard this song from this all female group Lucy Angel they have a song called Crazy Too you guys should check it out.

        Like

    • southtexaspistolero July 14, 2015 / 5:38 pm

      I ain’t gon’ lie. I hope they do fail. I am damn sick and tired of these people ruining country music because they couldn’t make it anywhere else, and I am all out of F&cks to give about how nice they allegedly are.

      Like

      • Raymond July 14, 2015 / 6:51 pm

        Allegdley? Dude are u suggesting they’re assholes.

        Look just look up a video of like when Kelsea found out she was #1. Or just.checkout something with those others.

        Also you shouldn’t hope for people to fail. Just shrug your shoulders and listen to other artists music.

        But whatever that’s your problem. Even if those artists are ” Ruining the genre” than go listen to the artists you like.

        Like

      • Scotty J July 14, 2015 / 7:55 pm

        Come on Raymond we don’t know if any of these people are nice or if they are the worst people in the world. This is a pet peeve of mine where people somehow think they know celebrities or athletes and whether they are good or bad people. We don’t know jack about these people and just because they put out some video tells us nothing.

        As for hoping someone fails of course that is a normal reaction to someone that you feel is lowering the standards of something you respect, like country music. You don’t have to agree but to pretend it’s beyond the pale is a little much.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Raymond July 14, 2015 / 9:01 pm

        Ok so I am dumb one for assuming this. Look they come off pretty genuine. But let’s just assume Kelsea Ballerini Raelynn are b&tches and FGL Cole Thomas Toby Sam Hunt are a-holes I at least try to see any good but ok those artists are fake. You know FGL can ruin country music along with Sam Hunt but as long there is some good in country music. Will I be dissapointed with a bro or R&B song yes but I trust what they are doing as they’re bound to be good cuts. But I mean I guess since you haven’t met them but you see how they are on TV that means nothing. That makes no sense at all.

        Like

      • Scotty J July 14, 2015 / 9:07 pm

        What you see on TV isn’t always real or genuine, Raymond. Sure sometimes it is but why do you think these celebrities employ publicists and other staff? It’s so they come across in the best possible way. And I’m not saying that all these people are horrible because they aren’t but to just say they are nice because of some packaged PR video is pretty naïve.

        Liked by 1 person

      • southtexaspistolero July 14, 2015 / 10:20 pm

        Also you shouldn’t hope for people to fail.

        If they are perpetrating a fraud on country music fans, which these people are, then I am going to cheer as loudly as I can for their failure, until my throat is hoarse. And I shall not lose a single solitary wink of sleep over it.

        And that “listen to something else” bit reminds me of the old line about gun people:

        “Why don’t you traditional country fans go off and start your own genre?”

        “We did. Who the hell let you in?”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Scotty J July 14, 2015 / 3:20 pm

    As for ‘Yeah’, ‘Yup’ and ‘Stuck’ I read an article a year or two ago about the trend for very short often one word song titles and the entire point is twitter obviously as ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ is a little long for a hashtag but we can have ‘Happy’, ‘Roar’ and ‘Royals’ and countless others.

    Another example of songwriting totally losing it’s focus in my opinion. Can’t we just let the song speak for itself anymore?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Fat Freddy's Cat July 15, 2015 / 9:28 am

    These people and their “checklist” songs. Sigh. If they would get off of their “evolution” high horse and listen to some traditional country music, they’d see that a good country song is evidently country without rattling off a hackneyed checklist of items and activities supposedly associated with country living.

    Liked by 1 person

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