Blacktop checks all the boxes for a cliché country record, but rest assured there’s much more to Kent than that.
1. Wild as Her
2. Long Story Short
3. Something's Gonna Kill Me
4. Man of the House
5. Gone as You
6. BiC Flame
7. Call It a Night
8. How You Know You Made It
9. Hood of That Car
10. Once or Twice
When it comes to a debut album, at Holler we like to think of it as a formal introduction to an artist, as well as a blueprint for what’s to come. Boy, have we been inundated with debut albums in the first half of 2023 (see: Nate Smith, Bailey Zimmerman, Megan Moroney, Griffen Palmer, etc.)
Another artist carving their name onto that list is RCA singer-songwriter Corey Kent who, though not new to the music scene, has readied his major label debut, Blacktop. The 10-track project serves as Kent's inaugural commencement to mainstream country whereas, up until this point, he's mostly resided in the world of Texas country.
Blacktop kicks off with Kent's debut. No. 1 single, 'Wild as Her.' The tune was written by some of the biggest names in Nashville–Morgan Wallen, Brett Tyler and Kelly Archer–meaning it was essentially born to be a hit. However, Kent's vocal performance is nothing to snuff at either.
One of three other outside cuts on the album, along with 'Gone as You' and 'Call It a Night,' 'Wild as Her' proves to be one of Blacktop's few standouts.
Another can be found on 'Man of the House,' a sobering ballad about growing up much quicker than a child ever should after their parent's marriage implodes. Undoubtedly the most personal song in the collection, Kent and his co-writers touch on a topic not traditionally found on the radio or elsewhere in country music and, for that, I applaud them. From his raw vocals to his powerful delivery, ‘Man of the House’ knocks down all the emotional walls between Kent and the listener as the stripped-back guitar plays.
Aside from those two tracks and the high-energy production pumped into the first half of the record, it's hard to pinpoint any other monumental moments on this debut album.
Though, sonically and lyrically, there's some fun turns of phrase and changes of pace on songs like 'Long Story Short' and 'Gone as You,' Blacktop otherwise feels like a cross-section of country music's typical storylines.
Whether it’s basking in those youthful summers (‘Call It a Night’); young, automobile-centered love (‘Hood of That Car’) or declaring himself an old soul for listening to vinyl records and using a lighter rather than a phone’s flashlight (‘Bic Flame’), the record simply falls a little flat and fails to grasp the listeners full attention for its just-over-half-an-hour runtime.
While we know that Kent has a truly deep, and almost romantic, connection to his craft, as evidenced through our recent conversation, this project just doesn’t showcase his full potential as an artist.
Blacktop checks all the boxes for a cliché country record but, rest assured, there’s much more to Kent than that.
We still look forward to seeing what else the Platinum-certified entertainer has up his sleeve in the projects to come.
Corey Kent's major label debut album, Blacktop, is available June 2 via RCA Nashville.
For more on Corey Kent, see below: