Previewing the track on his Le7els podcast, Avicii had kind words to say about Brown, an artist with his own history of blurring genre boundaries. “He’s an amazing singer and has a really unique voice,” Avicii said of Brown, the sole country star on an album that also features duets with Jon Bon Jovi, Matisyahu, Billie Joe Armstrong and Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
“Broken Arrows” pairs Brown’s crystal-clear vocals with thumping bass and twinkling synth lines. In typical dance-track fashion, momentum builds and eventually boils over into the song’s hook, sounding like a cross between a game-show theme song and something from Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers. Brown, his voice heavy with reverb, sings about a couple whose members split up and try to move on, only to keep returning to each other. “Sometimes you lose/And sometimes you’re shooting broken arrows in the dark/But I see the hope in your heart,” goes the refrain.
It’s not the first time Avicii has dabbled in country. The DJ has scored hits with crossover singer Aloe Blacc on “Wake Me Up,” and bluegrass stalwart Dan Tyminski (the voice of “Man of Constant Sorrow from the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack, and longtime member of Alison Krauss and Union Station) on “Hey Brother,” which made its way into millions of homes through an NJoy E-cigarettes commercial in 2014.
Country musicians have begun to experiment with EDM, too, including Brown himself, whose Jekyll + Hyde album includes the Auto-Tuned and drum-machined “Beautiful Drug.” Meanwhile, the CMT Music Awards opened this year’s show with a mash-up performance of Lady Antebellum’s “Long Stretch of Love” and German DJ Zedd’s “Beautiful Now” — the country trio also recently recorded the song “Something Better” with DJ Audien. And Big Kenny of Big & Rich has been making country EDM mashups under his Electro Shine banner since 2013.