‘Praise the Lord for Southern Women, Hemi Engines, Crispy Chicken!’
Breland; the 27-year-old New Jersey native who took genre fluidity to ultimate heights. Just as his album “Cross Country” suggests, he shook country, soul, R&B and gospel and threw them all into his mix and created his own brand of music. He hit us like a ton of bricks with his 2019 debut single “My Truck,” and had collaborations with the whole who’s who of not just the American country crowd, but the entire music industry. There’s no one like him on stage and after his ‘Breland and Friends’ gig at The Garage in Islington, north London; I am free to suggest that very few could emulate and bring the pure energy he displayed.
The friends who joined him on stage each brought their own style, and the duets and collaborations were well thought out. The timing and staging were impeccable; Una Healy brought a fantastic rock twist to the hit ‘Throw It Back’, while we heard classic country tones from the ladies of British country; Thomas district.
Matt Stell charmed the crowd with ‘One Of Us’ and his version of ‘Strawberry Wine’, joined by Breland and the cover I was hoping to hear.
Our very own Laura Oakes set the bar early on with “Here For It” and was a delightful introduction to the caliber of guest artists who were treated throughout the night.
Ben Earle of the Shires had us all dancing to “Praise The Lord”; the place was packed. You could barely move; but this one took the roof off, it was completely electric. Caitlin Smith’s jaw-dropping tones complimented her beautifully when dueting the title track from Breland’s album “Cross Country” and she showed off her incredible vocal ability when presenting her hit “High.”
We were treated to a truly diverse selection of Breland’s hits, guest hits, cover songs and, most excitingly, audience participation in the form of onstage line dancing queens and shotgun drinkers. ; the fun just kept coming.
Whether it’s reciting an impromptu rap about London that he wrote on the hit, or silencing the vibrant crowd with his pitch-perfect ballads “Good For You” and “For What It’s Worth”, Breland broke the barriers and remains on its mission to enlighten crowds that feel country music fits in a box. It’s impossible not to capture his infectious nature and genuine talent and step back, appreciate and respect the message he brings. Music, whatever the genre, is there to revive feelings of nostalgia and a good dose of dopamine and above all, to tell a story and have a hell of a good time.
Breland; you and your group and your friends have done it in abundance. Thank you and come back soon.
Review written by Jess T (twitter.com/jesstcountry)
Photos by Philippa Myall-Chance (Pictures of Philippa)