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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northeastern chapter.

Oklahoman singer songwriter Zach Bryan took fans by surprise when he released his recent self-titled album. Following the release of his 2022 album called “American Heartbreak,” it was rumored that Bryan would soon retire from making music. He chose not to perform in big stadiums and refused to use Ticketmaster for ticket sales. He even spitefully released an album of his setlist recorded live from Red Rocks Amphitheater titled, “All My Homies Hate Ticketmaster.”  Amidst these events, fans were worried that he would stop making music after this tour. However, on Aug. 25, “Zach Bryan” the album was released. The album has been, by far, his most popular work. This release has also forced him to perform in stadiums and use Ticketmaster simply because no other platform could sustain the high demand for tickets. 

What makes “Zach Bryan” so special? First and foremost, the intro-song… well, the intro-poem, has ironically gained popularity from TikTok. The poem “Fear and Friday’s” is about recognizing what’s around you and disconnecting from a materialistic consumerism lifestyle. Unfortunately, the materialistic consumerism lifestyle is one that TikTok often promotes. Hence, it is ironic that the poem gained popularity on that platform. Lines like, “Excess never leads to better things, it only piles and piles atop the things that are already abundantly in front of you” or, “I do not, and will not fear tomorrow because I feel as though today has been enough” capture the message of the album before you’ve even heard the first melody. The closing line of the poem, “I think fear and Friday’s got an awful lot in common, They’re overdone, and glorified, and always leave you wanting” sets the tone for the rest of the album by sinking listeners into a reminiscent and blissful state. 

The second track is called “Overtime” and probably hits a little too close to home for most Northeastern students with a chorus about constantly working too much to prove to himself that he deserves success. The song discusses a struggle with imposter syndrome and notes the people from his hometown that doubted his music career. The nostalgia and reminiscing really starts in the third track on the album “Summertime’s Close” which at its core is a description of an emotional relationship with a person he has lost. This song is assumed to be a beautiful memory of his mother that Bryan details as he works through the grief of his mother’s passing.  

The features on this album, including The Lumineers, Kacey Musgraves, Sierra Ferrell and The War and Treaty exceed anyone’s expectations. The fifth track on the album “Hey, Driver” introduces the first feature by The War and Treaty. This song has throaty expressions of Bryan’s desire to go home after being on the road for a long time. He reminisces on his childhood while also venting about the evils of the world around him. He debates whether it was worth pouring his life into his career and mulls over the sacrifices he has made to better his music. Bryan dips into a discussion on love and faith in the song “Holy Roller” featuring Sierra Farrell with the chorus, “I ain’t ever been a holy roller but I found God in your eyes.” The next feature is the most popular song on the album “I Remember Everything” featuring Kacey Musgraves. This song is chock-full of heart-breaking lines about a failed relationship. Bryan and Musgraves sink into each other with beautiful vocal chemistry and poetic lines that amplify the sentimental tone of the album. The thirteenth track features The Lumineers in a song called “Spotless” that is a dream-come-true for folk/country fans. The Lumineers and Zach Bryan write lyrics like, “If you wanna leave this, that’s okay, Everything meant to be is bound to stay.” These lines reconnect to the premise of the album as a testament against perfectionism, consumerism and materialism. 

Some of the other songs on the album that stand out are “Fear and Friday’s,” the song which adds an upbeat bar room element to the album along with “El Dorado” and “Jake’s Piano” which are both about losing a friend to time or distance or both and contribute to the reminiscent theme. “Tradesman” once again reflects on what his life would’ve looked like if he had chosen not to pursue music. “Smaller Acts” is the slowest song on the album, and its lyrics paint the picture of a woman he loves with poignant descriptions like, “you’d feel her in a room if you was blind, there ain’t a grand thing a man can do, she’ll only love you for you.”

Finally, Bryan ends the album with yet another reminiscent song about where he comes from and how that contributes to his identity today. Track sixteen, “Oklahoman Son,” takes you on a journey through the town Zach Bryan grew up in and accounts all the places and memories that he feels define who he has become. He describes how entangled his childhood is in his life and frames his identity as an  “Oklahoman Son” being one he will never escape. 

The album is made up of some emotional songs about difficult topics, but it has an uplifting spirit. In my opinion, he chose to self-title this album because it revolves around identity, and he spends many of the songs exploring his coming-of-age story. The album is a winding road of love, nostalgia, grief and reflection. So, if you are feeling homesick or heart-broken, it is definitely worth listening to “Zach Bryan” by Zach Bryan. 

Jane Richards

Northeastern '25

Hey!! My name is Jane, I am currently a Junior at Northeastern University studying Health Science on the Pre-Nursing Track. I am super interested in women’s health and substance use disorder Nursing. Aside from medicine, I enjoy reading, writing ,horse-back riding, and rock climbing.