BOTTOM LINE Forging ahead with his quest to put more rock in country.
It’s tempting to look at Jason Aldean’s new album, “Rearview Town” (Broken Bow), as a response to his harrowing experience at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
Aldean was performing onstage when the shooting began and was trapped in his tour bus as it continued. When it was finally over, 58 people had been killed by the lone gunman and more than 700 were injured.
While the mass shooting was a life-changing event, Aldean had already completed “Rearview Town.” However, its recurring theme of leaving pain behind and focusing on the future seems even more poignant now.
The first single, “You Make It Easy,” which has already topped the country charts, shows how Aldean wants to stretch his definition of country again after consolidating on 2016’s “They Don’t Know.” He sounds bluesier on the slow-burning ballad, which feels similar to Keith Urban’s “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” There’s a bit of Bon Jovi in the crunching guitar riffs of “Gettin’ Warmed Up,” which also includes some rapping, something he returns to in the introduction to “Like You Were Mine.” And “Drowns the Whiskey,” his gorgeous duet with Miranda Lambert, lets Aldean show off his more sensitive side.
While the bulk of “Rearview Town” sits in Aldean’s sweet spot of midtempo country rockers — including the driving “Set It Off” and “I’ll Wait for You,” with its roaring guitars and soaring solos — some moments shine brighter than the rest.
“Better at Being Who I Am” is one of those surprising leaps forward that pushes a career to the next level, like Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” or Luke Bryan’s “Drink a Beer.” Aldean sounds both clever and heartfelt as he declares, “Ain’t nothing about me worth a damn if I can’t be my old man’s son.” It’s a sign he’s ready to leave country formulas behind.
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