“2023’s New Male Artist of the Year,” rising country music star, Zach Bryan, dropped his much anticipated self-titled album on Aug. 25. The sophomore album with Warner Records immediately solidified itself atop the Billboard 200. Bryan also boasts the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with his hit song “I Remember Everything”. This popularity is echoed in the student body, as many describe him as a unique and relatable artist. Characterized by his vibrant and genuine songwriting, the singersongwriter has profoundly impacted students.
Junior Levi Smith has been listening to Bryan for around two years and was first introduced to him when he heard “Something in the Orange.”
“He has a unique sound. His music is different from most mainstream country,” Smith said.
The eponymous album touches on many different themes and topics throughout its songs. The first song in the album is a poem titled “Fear & Friday’s.” It gives a glimpse into the growth that the young artist has experienced since his last release.
“I’ve learned that every waking moment is enough and excess never leads to better things, it only piles and piles atop the things that are already abundantly in front of you,” Zach Bryan sings in “Fear and Friday’s (Poem).”
The 27-year-old shows a surprising level of maturity, exploring themes like grief and contentment. Fans say these songs help them get through similarly trying times.
Bryan’s meteoric rise to fame comes largely from his palpable authenticity.
“It doesn’t feel overly produced like most of the music coming out today. You can feel [the emotion] through the songs…other country artists, a lot of times, will just sing about the same things. He is truly one of a kind…[you] can’t compare him to anyone,” junior Ian Fox said.
Bryan has recently collaborated with artists like the Lumineers, Bon Iver, Kacey Musgraves and Noah Kahan. The Lumineers and Noah Kahan made a surprise appearance at the Pilgrimage Festival to perform live with Bryan for the first time.
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the self-described troubadour. Bryan, a Navy Veteran known for his authenticity and transparency, was arrested on Sept. 7 for interfering with a traffic stop. The melodist took to social media to explain the mug shot of him floating around cyberspace. He took full responsibility for his actions and apologized to the officers who detained him. While some might think Bryan’s arrest would discourage some from listening to his music, others believe it reveals his humanity and makes him an even more relatable artist.
“Zach Bryan messed up, and he’s gonna bounce back,” Fox said.
Zach Bryan’s massive “Quittin Time Tour” is on sale now, and the first concert is Mar. 6, 2024, in Chicago. He will also have a concert in Atlanta on Aug. 10. Bryan continues to swim against the proverbial tide, and will, no doubt, continue to make waves in the country music space as his unique popularity among young people remains strong.