There’s something so singular about Zach Bryan and the way he writes a song. He uses rich imagery in all his music, thick, almost tangible guitar, so much soul and passion in the way he sings. His voice reminds me of Tyler Childers and Colter Wall, that smoky, almost guttural sound. But, Zach Bryan is also distinctly Zach Bryan, just as Childers and Wall are distinctly Childers and Wall.
Now, on the heels of his massive 34-song debut album American Heartbreak, Zach Bryan has released a perfectly summertime EP, appropriately titled Summertime Blues. This EP perfectly encapsulates hot, sticky summer nights into 9 songs that transport us into Bryan’s world of headlights on a nighttime highway, orange sunsets, and thick, heavy summer air. Summertime Blues is a lament for young love and heartbreak, hard and simple times, escapism, youth, and making mistakes.
Summertime Blues has Zach Bryan’s usual fare of melodies; something a little dark, a little sad, rich and thick and melt-in-your-mouth. You can sink your teeth into a Zach Bryan song. So, without further ado, let’s take a bite, shall we?
‘Quittin’ Time’ Hypes Us Up for the End of a Tough Work Day
Right out of the gate, “Quittin’ Time” has me wishing for the end of the work day. Even though Zach Bryan is singing about manual labor, and sweaty, hard work, I’m here sitting at my computer going, “hey, yeah, I can’t wait for quittin’ time, too.”
This song paints us a picture of tough work, and the relief you get when it’s time to head home. In the track, the speaker takes his woman out dancing after hours of working on houses, or working in a steel mill, or out in the desert. It’s about hard times, not having a lot of money, but still enjoying the time off you get because you know you earned it.
Personally, this song reminds me of the time I worked on a farm in Odessa, Florida, and how hot and sweaty the work was. Quittin’ time was a relief because I got to get out of the sun, but also I got to go home, fix myself a drink, and relax. I earned those nights off, and walking the boardwalk to the parking lot, passing the lake, watching the sun turn the clouds orange and yellow as the sun set and I left work was its own reward.
Zach Bryan’s ‘Twenty So’ Reminds Us All What It Was Like Being a 20-Something
In my defense, I’m still a 20-something (I turn 30 next year and I’m hanging onto being a 20-something for as long as I can, thank you very much), but this song reminds us all of those savage, devastating, mistake-ridden years that shape us so fully. In true Zach Bryan fashion, it’s a melancholy song, full of remembrances, regrets, and a tinge of hope.
“When the day is done / Those neon lights call you home / You’ll be begging for a savior to come and save ya / From the savage times of twenty so / When the night is through / Those American girls are headed home / You’ll be begging for a savior to let you save her / The sweet nights of twenty so,” Bryan sings on this track.
Zach Bryan explores the juxtaposition of the “savage times” and the “sweet nights” of being twenty-so. There are so many changes that happen from 20 to 29, almost a whole lifetime passes between those years. “Twenty-So” touches on the triumphs and the regrets of that time, the sweetness and the savagery. It’s a gloriously melancholy reminiscence on the best and worst years of our lives.