After getting rejected by multiple labels, Jason Aldean got his start in 2005 with his self-titled debut. Wide Open in 2009 was his breakthrough record, largely thanks to the John Deere love-letter "Big Green Tractor."
With his fourth album, My Kinda Party, the country singer takes his career to the next level.
Key Facts about My Kinda Party
Straight-Up Country on the Rocks
From the first song, "Tattoos on This Town," Jason Aldean shows his strengths. He's a self-assured singer who doesn't reach for the high notes like the Scott McCreerys of the world; but that suits him just fine. In fact, his straightforward delivery complements the album's backcountry, small town imagery.
The instrumentals are just as strong, tending toward electric-guitar-driven arrangements. This distinguishes the tracks from sound-alike Nashville productions that can overwhelm good songwriting.
As Aldean said prior to the release of My Kind Party, "I don’t want my records to sound like everybody else's," Aldean said prior to the release of My Kinda Party. The only way to do that is to cut it like we do…with my touring band and with an engineer that nobody else uses in Nashville, and I’m really proud of that."
Aldean's talented backing band includes Kurt Allison, David Fanning, Tully Kennedy, and Rich Redmond. The musicians have had similar success with other artists; the quartet produced Thompson Square's self-titled breakthrough album.
"Dirt Road Anthem"
"Dirt Road Anthem" is the highlight of My Kinda Party. It was written by Brantley Gilbert and Colton Ford, who each recorded the song before Aldean got his hands on it. It's got a rapped section that somehow doesn't feel out of place; that might have something to do with lyrics that name-check George Jones, "dirt roads," and "ice cold beer."
So, yes, like some of his contemporaries, Aldean throws a swamp light on the country/city divide. But he doesn't over-romanticize small-town living. In "Church Pew or Bar Stool," Aldean sings about living in a community where life revolves around "Whiskey or the Bible / A shot glass or a revival." This is flipped on the witty "Fly Over States," in which Aldean pledges his love for noncoastal America. And the obvious party track "My Kinda Party" will please rye-swillers of any political or geographical denomination.
Best Songs on My Kinda Party
- "Dirt Road Anthem"
- "Fly Over States"
- "My Kinda Party"
- "Tattoos on This Town"
Introspective "Country Boy"
The second half of the album gets more emotional -- with the overblown ballad "Don't You Wanna Stay," featuring Kelly Clarkson on the soft-loud-soft setup. The breezy road-trip of "Texas Was You" has my finesse; a man travels cross-country and remembers the Lone Star most fondly because of a certain female.
A play on "(We're Not) The Jet Set," "Country Boy's World" offers another down-home view of geography as the singer woos a Jersey girl away from "Starbucks" and "wi-fi" with "fireflies" and "sweet tea."
But life isn't all Budweiser and roses. In "Heartache That Don't Stop Hurting," Aldean sings of a lovelorn man who after a breakup can't stop "throwing punches in the wind." If he's not careful, he'll head toward a fate similar to the character in George Jones's sob-opera "He Stopped Loving Her Today."
My Kinda Party shows that commercial country can be appealing without being appalling. Although the sameness of the arrangements can be get a little grating over the course of one listen, My Kinda Party's songwriting will keep listeners tuned in -- even if it lacks another of Aldean's classic tractor songs.
Maybe next time?