Danielle Bradbery was catapulted to stardom when she won The Voice in 2013 at only 16 years old. Mentored by Blake Shelton during the competition, Bradbery signed a deal with Big Machine Records the day after winning the show. Her debut self-titled arrived some months later and it was a moderate hit for the young star. Earlier this year Bradbery unveiled Sway, the lead single from her eagerly awaited second album, and it promised to take her sound in a new direction. Last Friday Bradbery released her new album I Don’t Believe We’ve Met.
For I Don’t Believe We’ve Met, Bradbery has taken control. Now 21 years old, she’s spent time working in the studio and writing songs, the latter she hadn’t done until this record. Lead single Sway is a Country pop fusion that fits in nicely with the current sound at radio and it’s a marked departure from the Taylor Swift-like Country she recorded for her debut album. Vocally she sounds more confident and relaxed, and for the first time her personality shines through in her music.
Sway isn’t really indicative of the sound of I Don’t Believe We’ve Met. It’s a nice bridge from her first album to this one but once Sway is over, the really interesting music starts to pop up. Potential, the album’s second track, opens with sparse and dramatic piano strokes allowing Bradbery’s distinctive voice to be showcased. It’s the boldest song we’ve heard from the singer yet and it serves to highlight how much she’s matured since her first record.
Sonically the album really explores a variety of sounds. The Country purists will be crying ‘this isn’t Country’ but as always I’m happy to say, ‘actually yes it is’. Sure there’s a pop edge to the whole record but that doesn’t detract from the storytelling at the heart of every one of these songs. Also there’s no getting away from the distinctly Country tone of Bradbery’s voice and she sounds confident and impressive across this collection.
Two of the songs on the record are co-written by Thomas Rhett so the heavier leaning to pop should come as no surprise. Rhett contributed to the dreamy What Are We Doing and the soaring Hello Summer. Interestingly, for me any way, they aren’t the best songs on the record. Worth It, one of the songs Bradbery co-wrote, is a powerful moment that shows the strength of her voice by pushing her likely outside her comfort zone. Another highlight is the electro-pop influenced Red Wine + White Couch, which could easily be a crossover hit in the vein of Kelsea Ballerini.
The standout moment is Messy, one of the most personal tracks on the album. Bradbery sings about a relationship that’s run its course but the two people involved aren’t doing anything to make it final. It’s a surprisingly effective and emotive moment.
The album’s final two tracks Human Diary and Laying Low are two that are sure to resonate with Bradbery’s young female fanbase. Human Diary explores the feeling of being left exposed when the person who knew you the best leaves you, whilst Laying Low, co-written by Bradbery, sees the singer taking a step back from the spotlight to enjoy life a little.
I Don’t Believe We’ve Met is a far superior album to Bradbery’s debut. Her being more involved in the album creatively is a definite plus and she’s clearly starting to find her voice as an artist. Even the songs she hasn’t had a hand in writing, she manages to sing as if from first-hand experience. She’s come a long way in a relatively short space of time and I’m really excited to see what she does next. I Don’t Believe We’ve Met is a real accomplishment that Bradbery should feel very proud of.
Track listing: 1. Sway 2. Potential 3. What Are We Doing 4. Worth It 5. Can’t Stay Mad 6. Messy 7. Red Wine + White Couch 8. Hello Summer 9. Human Diary 10. Laying Low Record label: Big Machine Release date: 1st December 2017