When it comes to down-home, relatable songs, Jason Aldean is the cream of the crop. His smooth, rock-edged voice wraps neatly around his well-worn lyrics — whether he’s singing about getting rowdy or remembering his glory days in high school. Since his major label debut in 2008, he has left a trail of memorable fist-pumping anthems of small-town life, searing his placement among country’s finest storytellers. He might not be a steady radio hit-maker, but his body of work is quite impressive.
Taking a look at his most recent album “Night Train,” he tells a vast, often eclectic, range of stories. On the opening track, for example, “This Nothin’ Town,” he sings about the misconceptions of living in a tiny town. “It might look a little laid back to ya, but it ain’t all just porches and plows,” he belts on the song’s chorus. “But don’t let that one red light fool ya, there’s always something going down.” Aldean gets up on his metaphoric soap box to address the issues at hand. Never judge a book by its cover: a simple, yet powerful message hidden behind a country-rock dressing.
On several other album cuts, like “Wheels Rollin’,” he sings about getting to do what he loves, making music and hitting the road on tour. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he says. Jason might be a superstar, but he’s a human just like the rest of us. If we aren’t doing what we love to do, then what are we doing? He seems to tell us to live life to the fullest and never take a second for granted. Seems easy, right? Likewise, on “Take a Little Ride” and his collaboration “The Only Way I Know,” featuring Luke Bryan and Eric Church, he talks about how growing up in the country taught him that “the first thing you learn is you don’t get nothing that you don’t earn.” Pay your dues; reap the benefits. “Don’t back up. Don’t back down.”
Nothing comes easy to those that wait, but if you work hard, everything will come to you.
Of course, a well-rounded record wouldn’t be the same without a raw, sweeping ballad. His “I Don’t Do Lonely Well” is a perfect example. “I can get up and face the day just fine all by myself,” he croons, “go out and take on the world and get it done like nobody else. Ohh but I don’t do lonely well.” On the surface, he can handle the pain of lost love, but deep down, he hurts. And it’s OK not to be OK, he says. Emotions make the world go round, and not even Jason’s tough exterior can change that or his ability to shed his skin and be vulnerable on occasion.
These themes aren’t particularly new for Jason. If you look further back in his catalog to such hits as “Dirt Road Anthem,” “Amarillo Sky” and “Fly Over States,” you can see a common thread that runs through his music. He sings from an honest place, teaching us all the important things in life. Live, laugh, love.