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Review: Brice moves step ahead on ‘I Don’t Dance’

September 10, 2014

Lee Brice, “I Don’t Dance” (Curb)

On Lee Brice’s third album, “I Don’t Dance,” he furthers his reputation as the most sensitive of the ball cap-bedecked male singers grouped under the “bro country” banner.

Like the others, Brice packs albums with testaments to consequence-free partying (“No Better Than This”) and an idealized version of rural life (“My Carolina”). However, in his arrangements and lyrics, Brice takes creative liberties that pay off in ways few of his peers ever accomplish. Like Brad Paisley before him, Brice comes off as a risk-taker willing to push the boundaries of what country music can address in a 3-minute song.

Where Brice truly sets himself apart is on his ballads. The title song, a recent No. 1 country hit, as well as on “That Don’t Sound Like You,” ″Good Man” and other songs, he reveals a talent for avoiding clichés and displaying an empathy for the real-life concerns of women. His ballads also show off his rangy baritone, confirming that he’s among the most expressive singers to emerge from Nashville in recent years.

As the album title suggests, the hefty Brice isn’t likely to dazzle with fancy footwork. But when it comes to insightful looks at modern life, he is a step ahead of most other contemporary country hit-makers.

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