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Breland, the King of Collabs, Created the Cross Country Sound

Country music has always been a mashup of cultures and influences, frequently changing and evolving to suit current sounds and trends. Build upon this heritage with BRELAND’s debut full-length album “Cross Country,” which combines gospel, R&B, and hip-hop elements with earlier songs by interpolating and sampling them.

Since the release of his first big-time viral hit, “My Truck,” in 2019, BRELAND has quickly assimilated into Nashville’s songwriter communities and established himself as the king of country collaborations. He has collaborated on songs with many artists, including Keith Urban, Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett, Jimmie Allen, Dierks Bentley, Tennille Townes, Lauren Alaina, and Chase Rice. He is expanding his brand of a more flexible and inclusive genre with each co-writing session.

We live in a world where there are a lot of different divisions, said BRELAND. They pop up everywhere, whether it’s political or not, people don’t really agree on a lot. And music is one of the unifiers that we have. It’s one of the only things that we have that really brings people together.

The Georgetown University student came from a musically inclined family growing up; he jokingly referred to them as the Von Trapps. His parents first connected through a gospel choir, and they’ve carried on that musical mission. After participating in college in a cappella, BRELAND relocated to Atlanta to write music for other performers. However, he has always wanted to be a singer, so he took the plunge after getting great feedback about a demo of “My Truck” on social media.

He received early assistance from Urban, a like-minded country musician who invited him into the recording studio to work on tracks for Urban’s upcoming album “Speed of Now, Pt. 1” in 2020.

Since then, BRELAND has worked on numerous projects simultaneously.

His first CMA nomination for musical event of the year was as a result of those collaborations with HARDY on the Bentley No. 1 hit “Beers on Me.”

When I’m in those types of rooms, I’m not really worried about what the outcome is going to be. I just want to try to make the best song possible, said BRELAND. I think musically I bring so many different sounds and possibilities on a record that if I’m on a more country-leaning song, I might be the hip-hop element as a feature. If I’m on a more hip hop-leaning song, I might be the country element.

Even more collaborations with various artists can be found on his album, including a country trap song led by Urban’s banjo and vocals, a pop duet with Ingrid Andress, a slow jam drinking song with Lady A, and the album’s title track with Mickey Guyton.

In order to connect his music to the past of country music, Breland and his producers Sam Sumser and Sean Snell also rework samples and interpolations of previous country songs, most especially songs by female performers. The song “County Line” uses the jingly keyboard from the 1982 No. 1 crossover smash “Nobody” by Sylvia, while BRELAND’s “Natural” mimics the characteristic guitar riffs from “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” in a tribute to Shania Twain.

BRELAND raps about small-town folks with tongue-in-cheek lyrics over a beat built over the instantly recognizable “Nobody” theme from the 1980s. The song was co-written by Hunt and country singer-songwriter Ernest. Ernest claimed that Sumser had brought them the sample, and the writers begun to vibe to its retro sound right away.

Trends come back around, Ernest said of reworking the song. I think we’re just all tipping our hat and paying homage to the stuff that had the sauce before us. BRELAND said, Both of those songs can exist under the umbrella of historical country music.

Given that gospel was the foundation of his family, BRELAND claimed that his parents would have ideally wanted him to pursue a career in religious music. But he came up with a new strategy to preach a unifying message.

Whether or not it’s a directly religious message, I do think that there is a God message in the music, which is being positive, said BRELAND. I want people to feel good. I want people to be positive. I want people to love each other.

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