Fans are blowing up social media with anticipation and speculation about four-time Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan’s new music and next album. While the Georgia-born country music superstar has been tight-lipped about the project, he’s also been quietly previewing potential album tracks at private events and concerts to assess fan reaction.

Bryan is on the road with his “Huntin’, Fishin’ And Lovin’ Every Day Tour,” and Rare Country has been tracking the small performances Bryan gives for fan club members prior to his massive stadium and arena stops. In those more intimate settings, Bryan has tried out at least three new tracks in recent weeks, including one that seems to take on critics who say his music isn’t country enough.

The album’s lead single, “Light It Up,” released Aug. 23, is about breaking up in an age of instant communication and rejection. Breakup songs are a staple of country music, but singing about waiting by the phone is a whole new experience when smart phones are within reach 24/7.

In the song, which was written by Bryan and Old Dominion member Brad Tursi, Bryan sings: “My world’s at the tip of your fingers / I get so neurotic about it, baby.” Understandable, when a simple swipe can mean redemption or goodbye.

The lyrics in “Light It Up” describe the compulsive action of constantly checking your phone while waiting for a reply to a potentially end-it-all message. And while cell phones and texting are a far cry from anything country heroes like Merle Haggard or Willie Nelson would have sung about back in the day, Bryan is still singing about real life. In 2017, the means of communication may have changed, but the way love and loss feels remains the same as it did when Haggard sang about “Misery and Gin” or Nelson lamented the loss of his “Blue Eyes Crying the Rain.”

“Light It Up” is the follow up single to “Fast,” which was Bryan’s 18th career No. 1 single. He made history when he became the only artist in the 27-year history of the Billboard Country Airplay chart to garner six No. 1 singles from one album. With “Kill The Lights,” Bryan also beat his own record, as previous albums “Tailgates & Tanlines” and “Crash My Party” generated five No. 1 singles each. It’s been nearly two years since the country music superstar released “Kill The Lights,” so clearly, the pressure is on to exceed expectations with this new project. 

Potential collaborations are top of mind with fans, and Bryan vaguely confirmed in a recent radio interview that there would be a duet with a female artist on the new set. Bryan has already had duets with Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild (“Home Alone Tonight”) and singer/songwriter Ashton Shepherd (“Tailgate Blues”), but there are plenty of other great female singers that would be a musical match, including Carrie Underwood, who is his fans’ top choice for the job, based on their social media posts. 

Time – not Bryan – will tell what music will be included on the as-yet unnamed studio album, which is expected later this year.

In the meantime, Bryan is focused on finding the right fit, musically. He recently told Rare Country, “At the end of the day, the stuff that I can control is trying to sing better, trying to be a better musician, trying to write better songs. We constantly, in the studio, we’re trying new songs. I’ll continue to do that as long as I’m trying to be seriously active in this business.”

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