Archives: Brantley Gilbert ‘One Hell of An Amen’ – Single Review
This article was first published on November 28th, 2014 on forthecountryrecord.com.
With ‘One Hell of An Amen’, Brantley Gilbert is edging back towards what he does best. The song has been around for a while; it was cropping up on YouTube as early as Winter/Spring 2013 as a lowish-quality demo version, an example of his dedicated fanbase finding unreleased tracks and spreading them about to those who will equally enjoy them. It’s something of a reminder of the Brantley we knew before bro-country, and how much of a shame it is that he’s been co-opted by Big Machine Label Group and the country pop trends. After all, although some of his music could be seen as an acquired taste (certainly songs about drinking and fighting are not my cup of tea), past records indicate that he’s actually a talented songwriter, with recent material not doing him justice at all.
‘One Hell of An Amen’ is well-timed for its release too because it’s a tribute to those fallen in battle (as well as those dying from cancer). Although Memorial Day is in May in the US with November reserved for honoring veterans, there’s still plenty of love and celebration for the troops at the moment, while cancer sufferers are often at the forefront of people’s minds. It is likely that almost all Americans will either know someone who has been injured or killed in battle, or someone who has been taken by cancer, and many will know someone afflicted by both. For that reason this song is well-placed, grounded in specifics but carrying a universal theme of love and respect for those who have died in the midst of immense bravery. It will be a tear-jerker for many and Brantley seems to deliver it with a meaningful smile, one full of joy for the impact that person had on the world. It doesn’t promise that we will see the departed again, but it does say, “if this is our last goodbye, it’s one hell of an amen.”
In that way, it reminds me of Dylan Thomas’ famous poem ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’, which celebrates raging against the onset of death and refusing to go quietly. There is a grace and powerful meaning in such an act, such a sentiment, and I love that after the bro-fests of previous singles ‘Bottoms Up’ and ‘Small Town Throwdown’ (featuring fellow dudes Justin Moore and Thomas Rhett), Brantley and his team instead chose to release this meaningful track. Although it utilizes more current drum loop techniques as well as hints of auto-tune and vocal polish, the predominant sound is one of classic 80s rock, something that Brantley built his career on. While this song could have really shone acoustically, the more overblown production approach doesn’t detract too much from the message and is a lot better than it could have been.
If the mix between current and classic Brantley sounds and catchy chorus weren’t sellable enough, the lyrics of ‘One Hell of An Amen’ will catapult this song straight to #1. Be prepared to hear this everywhere you go.