Posted on 25 May 2007 by Bill West
I’ve had three days to try to decide just who Jason Aldean sounds like on his new release Relentless (available 5/29). I first thought Tracy Lawrence. Chris Cagle? Clay Walker? In fact, there’s a bunch of voices that seep though Aldean’s delivery. The good thing is that they mix together to create something unique and very MAINSTREAM country.
The lead single “Johnny Cash” is a bit misleading in that way. It’s a nod to his success with his first album’s debut single “Hicktown.” “Hicktown” peaked at number ten on the Billboard radio charts but the song (and a fun video) left a large footprint and gave him something to really get into at his live shows.
“Johnny Cash” should have similar chart success but it’s sound isn’t really about classic country music. It’s a rock song disguised as country. It’s actually the least “country-fied” song on the CD. That’s a good thing because Aldean finds his niche on more mainstream fare on the CD like “I Use What I Got” and there’s even the feel of a Kenny Chesney ballad on “Laughed Until We Cried.” (Pictured with Aldean and MJ Colonial Center 10/7/6 )
Aldean – straight outta Macon, Georgia – has paved his way for some great stage shows. He already had a few hits and usually always steals the show when he opens for larger stars. Now he can add “Johhny Cash” (currently climbing at thirteen on the radio singles charts) to the show and there will surely be a hit slow or mid tempo mainstream smash coming. My picks: “My Memory Ain’t’ What It Used to Be” or “Use What I Got” It won’t be long before he’s headlining.
Aldean did not have a hand in writing any of the new songs but opted to try to recapture some of the first album’s magic with two John Rich cuts (actually not my favorites). His record label, the relatively small Broken Bow records, made all the right moves with the first release and will likely find the cuts that will get airplay. He has become the label’s “star act.”
Aldean fans should like the CD and might be surprised how mainstream it is. Newcomers will get turned on to someone that connects with fans and is definitely a rising star.
I Keep Replaying: “I Use What I Got” (A Great combination of hook, fun, and inspiration with some Copperhead road on the intro).
Posted on 10 May 2007 by Bill West
I have to hand it to Gretchen Wilson. It would have been very easy for her to forget her audience. I’ve seen them turn out in full force at her ambitious arena tour last year. She has a strong following of hell raising, real life, regular women that feel empowered by her proud lyrics. Wilson is preaching directly to those fans in her new CD “One Of The Boys.” It’s a whiskey soaked, (at least three drinkin’ songs) southern rock, country-steeped, collection that will be a lot of fun for her fans (especially when performed live).
For some odd reason (unfortunately) it looks like country radio may be leaving her behind. Otherwise, this CD could be the project that locks in her superstar status.
Wilson offers up a bunch of tunes that could work well in the mix on most stations. The rock-edged bar closer “You Don’t Have To Go Home” holds up perfectly next to “Here For The Party” and other rowdy songs that she’s delivered in the past. Her female fans are sure to giggle with appreciation over the message in “If You Want A Mother,” and I got a genuine kick out of Possum-flavored spirit in “There Goes The Neighborhood.” She does a respectable job of offering fresh takes on the kinds of songs that got her overnight success.
A lot of people will be surprised by what a great sound Wilson has when she delivers the slow songs found on the disk. Although “Come To Bed” (with writing partner John Rich) never hit on country radio, I have a feeling it will resonate with her female fans. She’s got the kind of voice that’s been missing for a while in mainstream country. Finally – traditional female twang is cool again.
Tracking the disk cut for cut reveals a fun ride with a southern rock feel. Wilson really shines on the tempo… and you have to give her major credit for co-writing all but two of the songs on the album. I’d like to hear a bit more punch in the production (especially in “Mother”). But overall the disk is fun to listen to in the truck and will be even better when performed live and loud. She writes in her liner notes, “This is the most important record I have ever made, and maybe ever will make. To me, it’s more than just songs It is my diary set to music.” Although I doubt she’s still closing down the redneckbars every night I’m just glad she’s keeping it country.
I Keep Replaying:
“You Don’t Have To Go Home” and “There’s a Place In The Whiskey”
Overall Grade: A-