When it comes to Brantley Gilbert, I’ve found there are two sides to him. There’s the album cuts side and the singles side. I found this out firsthand when I review his last album Just As I Am, which proved to be an okay album. What kept the album from being terrible and a complete waste of time were the meaning album cuts throughout it where Gilbert played to his strengths and actually produced some meaningful music. But what kept the album from being close to good were the songs released as singles. “Bottoms Up” and “Small Town Throwdown” are two of the worst singles I’ve heard on country radio in the last few years. Gilbert has to be amongst the worst of mainstream country artists when it comes to releasing singles, so it ultimately drags his image and respect down, at least in my eyes. Gilbert is now back with a new single, “Stone Cold Sober,” which is from the deluxe edition of Just As I Am.
The song immediately begins with some hip-hop/electronic sounds, which right away is a red flag. It’s also a little jarring, considering Gilbert hasn’t relied on this sound before. Sure he went full bro country and is one of main people responsible for rap infiltrating mainstream country music, but electronic beats was something he hadn’t used in his music until now. So I guess Gilbert is fine with being a trend chaser, which doesn’t surprise me at all. “Stone Cold Sober” is a song about a man who let his drinking get the best of him and as a result his woman left him. Now he’s begging her to come back into his life and promises he’s a changed man now. Gilbert is definitely going for a more serious song here, but I’m just not buying it. First off the song shouldn’t have electronic influences and is too upbeat for a song with this theme. It should be darker and slower because after all the guy in the song is not only battling demons, but has lost love too. Sounds somber, no? So the mood of the song should reflect this.
In addition, Gilbert just doesn’t sell the emotion of this song enough. Even though he doesn’t have a great vocal range, Gilbert has demonstrated an ability to convey enough emotion in a song to connect with the listener. It’s missing here. He just sounds bored and oddly not serious enough. The lyrics are also nothing special and really do nothing to stand out (the song was written by Gilbert, Brett James and Dan Layus). It’s the typical themes you find in a Brantley Gilbert song. Outside of the electronic sounds, the instrumentation isn’t bad though and keeps a solid rock country sound.
After listening to “Stone Cold Sober,” the song I immediately compared it to was Luke Bryan’s “Drink A Beer.” It tries so hard to be a more serious offering and has the elements to pull it off, but it just misses the mark in too many areas. “Stone Cold Sober” could have been a good song if the mood and tempo were slowed down and if Gilbert conveyed enough emotion to elevate the lyrics. And of course the electronic beats are completely unnecessary. There are so many mainstream country songs brought down by bad production and this is yet another example. Gilbert takes a swing and misses with “Stone Cold Sober.”