Luke Bryan, "Spring Break . Checkin' Out" (Capitol Nashville)
Luke Bryan opens his annual spring-break album with "My Ol' Bronco," a song about an aging vehicle that still gets the job done. The Bronco could be a metaphor for Bryan himself — both were born in the 1970s and both have outgrown an affinity for kicking up sand at musical beach parties.
"Checkin' Out" is Bryan's seventh spring-break collection in as many years; that's in addition to four full-length albums since 2007. The 38-year-old CMA Entertainer of the Year understandably feels ready to focus on something deeper than beach-party soundtracks.
His maturity shows in the songs, too. He still celebrates the lighthearted joys mixing sand, sun and surf with liquor and women, as on the funk-dance rhythms of "Good Lookin' Girl" and "Like We Ain't Ever" — the latter among the six tunes recycled from Bryan's 2014 release, "Spring Break 6." This time he sneaks in youthful drama on "Games" and gets sentimental on "Spring Breakdown."
Furthermore, Bryan's musical collaborators, the father-son production team Jeff and Jody Stephens, reveal some new sonic tricks in the arrangements. Altogether, Bryan makes the best of his last spring vacation — and shows that he is poised to add more depth and texture to his music in the future.