I’m not the biggest fan of the country genre, even though it was something I always grew up with in my household. I do try to give every genre a fair shake when listening to them, but country songs usually have to stand out a bit for me to get into them—and a good way to do that is by mixing them up with other genres. Brian Grilli is an example of this, as he’s claimed blues rock and SoCal guitar pop as influences in addition to country. That sense of variety is a major boon for his new album Deep South Symphony, released by the Spectra Music Group even if most of its tracks do fit a sort of comfortable southern rock mold. Grilli’s stylistic intentions are demonstrated well on the record’s cover, which has the artist displaying a country-esque hat and very hard rock-appropriate tattoos.

Deep South Symphony starts things out with a title track and a buzzy, partying atmosphere. References to southern rock bands of years past combine with summery hooks and twangy guitars. The album, recorded in Nashville with a member of the band The Georgia Satellites, is country through and through, but does incorporate other influences. The following tune “Obsession” is a standout track, with a moody organ and slow-jam bass that feel indebted to genres like classic soul and alternative rock. The tune’s melancholy atmosphere and interesting chord progressions in the chorus make it quite a treat. Later on the album is “Unbroken,” which starts with a quick, energetic drumbeat that wouldn’t be out of place in pop punk. The song in its entirety, while being more accurately described as southern rock, keeps the energy from that beat going and then drops it for an effective instrumental break. That’s not to say that Deep South Symphony has much in the way of prog-esque long solos—Grilli generally sticks to the four-minutes-or-less pop-rock formula with catchy hooks and verses, which works out well. “My Hometown,” a single Grilli released last year, mines the theme of nostalgia well and has very comfy-sounding acoustic chords. Deep South Symphony does have some songs better than the others, but it’s a record sure to be enjoyed by southern rock fans looking for something good for the summer.