Brett Young to appear in concert at SUU in Cedar City

Publicity photo of country musician Brett Young, who will appear in concert at Cedar City, Utah, on March 21, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University Alumni and Community Relations, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Country musician Brett Young, fresh off the release of his newest album, will appear in concert March 21 at the America First Event Center on the Southern Utah University campus. The presenting radio station for the concert will be 99.9 KONY Country.

“For most artists, following up a debut album is a serious creative challenge. But when that debut happens to be a meteor of breakout country success like Brett Young’s, the stakes get even higher,” event organizers said in a news release from SUU announcing the upcoming event.

Young said that going into his second album, “Ticket to L.A.,” he was terrified.

A lot has happened, the first record has been really good to me and I’m really, really proud of it,” he said. “But just having a new batch of songs – it’s like breathing new life.”

After nearly a decade of under-the-radar work, Young made his platinum-certified entrance in 2016 with the restless romance of his No. 1 hit “Sleep Without You,” then proceeded to own the top of the charts with three more singles from his self-titled platinum album debut.

The tender “In Case You Didn’t Know” spent two weeks at No. 1, selling over 3 million copies and becoming the second-most purchased/streamed country song of 2017, which he followed with another pair of platinum certified hits: “Like I Loved You,” which was No. 1 for three weeks, and the heart-rending “Mercy.”

Co-writing each of those career-defining hits himself, Young’s emotionally fluent brand of country soul didn’t exist elsewhere in the genre, the news release said, and fans connected with it deeply. But it was all born from a painful time in the Southern Californian’s life – one he’s since emerged from.

Publicity photo of country musician Brett Young, who will appear in concert at Cedar City, Utah on March 21, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University Alumni and Community Relations, St. George News / Cedar City News

“I think the first album was a really good way for me to introduce myself,” Young said. “It was extremely honest and vulnerable, but me and my girl were broken up, and I was new to Nashville and hadn’t built a friend base yet, so that made it easy for me to go a little bit somber.”

With his hotly anticipated sophomore album, Young once again embraces his gift for vulnerable honesty – but this time in a much different capacity. That girl from the first album is now his wife, and Nashville has become the easygoing crooner’s second home. So rather than double down on brokenhearted balladry, he’s inviting fans to explore a brighter chapter as he turns up the heat on his mellow SoCal-meets-Music-City style.

“There’s a lot of Southern California’s DNA all over the record,” Young said. “It’s very light – intentionally – and sonically it’s very upbeat. That doesn’t exist as much on the first album, so I wanted to showcase a bit more versatility this time around. We’re still doing the same thing, it’s just coming from a completely different moment in my life.”

Sticking with same studio team behind his extraordinary debut – producer Dann Huff, executive producer Jimmy Harnen and engineer/mixer Justin Niebank – Young doesn’t reinvent his sound so much as build off what was uniquely him to begin with.

The tempos on “Ticket to L.A.” are indeed quicker, but the heart behind each track remains front and center. The sonics are more vibrant – still sophisticated but emboldened with a pinch of R&B playfulness. And the themes have shifted away from heartbroken, sliding easily toward a sense of romantic serenity.

Over the course of 13 new tracks – 10 of which Young co-wrote with hitmakers like Shane McAnally, Hillary Lindsey, Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and more – the star brings fans ever deeper into his world, basking in the transformative power of love.

Lead single “Here Tonight” shows off the new approach with a rush of romantic energy. Passionate, dynamic and framed by that smoldering, sensual vocal, it feels like a soundtrack to moments you wish would never end.

“When I hear it, it actually makes me go to the night I proposed,” he said. “When she said yes, that was one of the best moments of my life.”

The title track, “Ticket to L.A.,” follows a similar emotional flight plan, opening the project with a laid-back combo of country charm and left-coast cool. The plot twister may not trace the contours of Young’s own relationship, per se, but it does reveal his renewed faith in love, imagining a couple who fall head over heels while waiting out a delay at New York’s JFK airport.

“What made me excited was when we decided he wasn’t even on her flight, but he never told her that the whole time,” Young said.

Revisiting his signature honesty, Young goes on to lead fans through a soulful country-pop ballad, a hometown-to-hit maker look in the rearview at his path to stardom which finds him teaming up to write and sing “Chapters” with one of his inspirations, Gavin DeGraw. Naming the album “Ticket to L.A.” was no accident, Young said, saying that for him it represents a connection to his roots, which no amount of distance can break.

Meanwhile, classic R&B grooves pepper the project, with tracks like the flirtatious “Reason to Stay.” The irresistible “Catch” feels like the musical equivalent of a beachside sunset, toasting the moments that take our breath away in relaxed perfection. And the smooth blues-pop of “Where You Want Me” puts Young’s smoky baritone on blast, lamenting a courtship which would feel right at home on any 1960s-era Stax hit.

“Change Your Name” and “The Ship and the Bottle” add more territory to Young’s kingdom of slow-burning romance, laying bare the supercharged emotions intrinsic to the start – and end – of any life-changing love, while “Let It Be Mine,” takes quiet devotion to new heights.

“1,2,3 Mississippi” offers a playful coming-of age-anthem – a winking nod to Young’s time as a baseball-slinging undergrad at the University of Mississippi. And “Used to Missin’ You” is straight-up fun, with its upbeat tone never losing interest in the pursuit of happiness.

But it’s “Running Away From Home” and “Don’t Wanna Write This Song” that put a poignant cap on the album, with Young taking the laid-back longing and unvarnished honesty he’s become so famous for, and pushing it into the present tense. Defined once again by romantic regret, they’re actually much different than his past hits – perhaps because now, he has so much that’s worth fighting for.

Coming into this project, Brett Young had as much to lose as any young artist in country’s history, but he’s never been one to hold back. There is far more to his story, and he’s learned that in life and music – just like in love – growth is really nothing to fear. With “Ticket to L.A.,” the journey continues.

“It’s a super lofty goal to try and chase down the artist dream,” he said. “But I’ve never known any other way than taking the thing I’m passionate about, and running with it no matter the consequences.”

Event details

  • What: Brett Young in concert.
  • When: Thursday, March 21, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: America First Event Center, located at 351 W. Center St. on the Southern Utah University campus, Cedar City.
  • Admission: Tickets may be purchased online here, by calling 435-586-7872 or at the Thunderbird Ticket Office.
  • Additional details: For more information about the show, call SUU Alumni and Community Relations at 435-586-7777.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!