Brett Young at the Santa Barbara Bowl, May 19, 2023 | Photo: Carl Perry

“Friday night in Santa Barbara does not suck” was how country singer Brett Young greeted the crowd at the Santa Barbara Bowl on May 19. “Especially when you have a curfew here, so you know this is just the pre-party,” he added, poking playfully at the venue’s 10 p.m. neighborhood shutdown rules. 

The sweet sincerity of his “Caliville” sound (the Southern California native now lives in Nashville) was evident throughout the night, as he ran through an extensive playlist of singalong hits like “In Case You Didn’t Know,” “Dance with You,” “Sleep Without You,” and “You Didn’t,” a pretty not-in-love song about being with in love with someone who doesn’t love you back. 

One of the high points for me was a beautiful cover of Tim McGraw’s “Don’t Take the Girl,” sung as a duet with Morgan Evans, who was one of two opening acts. The other was Ashley Cooke, who also got her time to duet with Young on a new song, “No Matter What I Do, I Still Wake Up Missing You.” Young even gave his crew members a chance to come from behind the stage and up to the front for a few songs, a generous move to be sure (although they sounded great). 

There’s no doubt that Young wears his heart on his sleeve and brings his whole self to the stage in a way that most musicians don’t. Between his wife in the wedding video in the background of “Dance With You” and his baby daughter and wife in the video for “Weekends Look a Little Different These Days,” I definitely left the show feeling like I got to know a little bit more of this sweetly romantic singer.


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