Thursday, December 23, 2010

RDR CD REVIEW: My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean (Broken Bow Records) 2010

Reviewing Jason Aldean's previous album, Wide Open, back in May 2009, Red Dirt Report wrote that Aldean, having endured a sophomore slump, was back on his third album "with a new energy" in the form of a "crisp, rockin' new album."

And Wide Open was a monster. Incredibly popular and loaded with hits. Songs like "She's Country" and "Big Green Tractor" stick with you long after hearing them.

Well, upon listening to My Kinda Party I just don't get that same impression. Granted, it's song-heavy – 15, all told – and there are some solid, straight country songs here. But even though he brings Michael Knox back to the production booth, Aldean's heart just doesn't seem to be in it.

Aldean likes his guitars on the heavy side when he can get them. On album opener "Tattoos On this Town" he stays true to that tradition. Sounding similar to his song "Amarillo Sky," this Georgian does embrace a certain, comfortable style that can get repetitious at times.

This is also evident on the title track, "My Kinda Party," a song that is bona fide redneck rock but is lacking in a certain soulfulness that would have given this lyrically run-of-the-mill track a bit more bite.

Teaming up with Texas pop star Kelly Clarkson on "Don't You Wanna Stay," Aldean offers up an overwrought power ballad that shows his willingness to take chances and his willingness to make mistakes. Clarkson's got the pipes, it's Aldean that struggles to keep up.

I knew country rapper Colt Ford had to be involved on the clunky "Dirt Road Anthem," which he co-wrote, and with Aldean sounding awkward as he talks-raps lines over a rippling bass line reminiscing about life in the country. Ford can pull it off, Aldean, on the other hand, needs to ditch the rap stuff no matter how tempting it is.

Up-and-coming country singer Josh Thompson co-wrote one of My Kinda Party's better songs called "Church Pew or Bar Stool." A slower-tempo track which showcases Aldean's unique voice and traditional themes of struggling with life and deciding between "a shot glass or revival." This song is one of the better songs in his growing catalog.

Oklahoma gets some well-deserved attention on the middling country rocker "Fly Over States." This one written by Neil Thrasher and Michael Dulaney really captured the idea of the Heartland, often forgotten by coasties.

Singing: "On the plains of Oklahoma / With a windshield sunset in your eyes / Like a watercolored painted sky / You'll think heavens doors have opened / You'll understand why God made / Those fly over states."

Songs like "Just Passing Through" and "Days Like These" are decent while Aldean shows his vocal strengths (and musical direction) really standing out on pedal-steel-flecked "open road" songs like "Texas Was You." This sounds influenced by the Texas/Red Dirt scene.

This isn't Aldean's strongest album to date but it still shows the Peach State native can still belt out big numbers and twang his way through mid-tempo country rockers with ease.

Grade - B

Copyright 2010 West Marie Media

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