Before Brooks & Dunn formed as a duo in 1990, both Ronnie Dunn and Kix Brooks were solo artists. Each of them had two singles hit the charts in the 1980’s. The duo released their first joint album BRAND NEW MAN (Arista) in 1991. It landed them four consecutive #1 singles on the U. S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts. The album was produced by Scott Hendricks and Don Cook.
The title track, ‘Brand New Man’, hit #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart. It is one of four songs on the project that are penned by Kix Brooks, Don Cook, and Ronnie Dunn. It’s an upbeat country and western song that speaks of being transformed by finding the right lady: “Oh, how I used to roam/I was a rolling stone/I used to have a wild side/They say a country mile wide/I’d burn those beer joints down.../I saw the light/I’ve been baptized/By the fire in your touch/And the flame in your eyes/I’m born to love again/I’m a brand new man”. ‘My Next Broken Heart’ has an old country twang to it and a not so optimistic outlook: “Well, I thought all along you’d be the death of me/But I met one tonight who wants what’s left of me/I’ve seen that look before/She’ll tear my world apart/I’m working on my next broken heart”.
‘Cool Drink of Water’ is a fun, toe-tapping story song: “I took her to a nightclub where we used to go a lot/The beer is cold and frosty and the band is blazing hot/I went back for a refill and this guy walked up and said/’There’s a blonde out on the dance floor turning everybody’s head’/She’s a cool drink of water/And I should run, yes I probably oughta/She might be the devil’s daughter/But she’s a cool drink of water”. Chick Rains is a co-writer on ‘Cheating on the Blues’. It speaks of the importance of moving on when a romantic relationship is through: “He left you, she left me/Drowning in this misery/We stopped living when they said goodbye/We’ve been faithful to these blues/But I’ve had enough/Now how about you?/Don’t you think we’ve earned the right to go cheating on the blues tonight?”
‘Neon Moon’ is a moving, depressing country ballad: “When the sun goes down on my side of town/that lonesome feeling comes to my door/The whole world turns blue/There’s a rundown bar/’Cross the railroad tracks/I’ve got a table for two way in the back/Where I sit alone and think of losing you/I spend most every night/Beneath the light of a neon moon”. ‘Lost and Found’ is a melodic song where the main character is a man whose gal has ran off: “She’s out there somewhere burnin’ up the night/Somehow I’ve got to run her down/I’m running out of time/It’s kinda like a lost and found in a border town/You’re askin’ ‘bout a diamond ring/They just look at you like you’ve lost your mind/Say they haven’t seen a thing/But I know she’s been here lately/I can still smell her perfume/And she gets crazy on a full moon”.
Next up is ‘I’ve Got a lot to Learn’, a country ballad of regret: “I thought I had her wrapped around my finger/I didn’t think this bridge would ever burn/I always thought she’d take me back/But she taught me the cold hard fact/When it comes to love I’ve got a lot to learn”. Ronnie Dunn wrote ‘Boot Scootin’ Boogie’. It became a #1 single for the duo and a line-dancing classic! It`s also one of the duo`s signature songs. It`s all about having a blast: `Yeah, heel toe do si do/Come on baby, let’s go boot scootin’/Oh Cadillac blackjack, baby meet me out back/We’re gonna boogie/Oh, get down, turn around, go to town/Boot scootin’ boogie”.
‘I’m No Good’ is a honky tonk song delivered from the viewpoint of a drunk man: “I got whiskey to keep me warm when the sun goes down/And this God forsaken honky tonk ain’t likely to run out/So won’t you come on home and save me/Stop me before I drown/’Cause I’m no good, pretty mama/When you’re not around”. Last up is ‘Still in Love with You’, a sentimental ballad: “If I had a horse, I’d ride off in the sunset/If I had wings, I’d fly off/In the sky so blue/If I had the time/I’d spend my whole life dreaming/But I’d wake up, still in love with you”.
BRAND NEW MAN is a wonderful, mostly old-style country and western record. Themes of loneliness and heartache are frequent, but there are also some happier songs to be found including the title track, which uses religious imagery to get its point across. Both Kix and Ronnie are capable of carrying the lead vocal. Background vocalists include: John Wesley Ryles and Harry Stinson. Instruments used include: pedal steel and lap steel guitars, mandolin, fiddle, Steinway piano, and harmonica. All in all, I’m rating this 1991 debut album 87%. For more info visit: www.brooksanddunn.wordpress.com.