Aldean takes a dip into other genres

Alex Belz

There’s been a lot of controversy in the country music world for years now over how far an artist can diverge from standard country music and still be considered part of the country genre. Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood are constantly under scrutiny for their pop sentiments, as was Tim McGraw when he made “Over and Over Again” with rap star Nelly. Jason Aldean, on his new album, “My Kinda Party,” takes it one step further – he actually raps on one of his tracks.

Aldean’s new album represents everything good in country music. It’s head-swaying, feel-good music, full of songs perfect for drinking with friends or driving alone in the middle of the night. Though there are a few new tricks up Aldean’s sleeve (like rapping on the second track, “Dirt Road Anthem,”) the album still has a classic country sound.

“Dirt Road Anthem,” isn’t a chart-topper from the album – yet. But if Aldean was smart, he’d release it as a single. The song is very relatable. Surprisingly, Aldean can rap, although not as well as the greats. Aldean won’t be giving Biggie or Jay-Z a run for their money any time soon, but Aldean does hold his own in a unique, Georgia-accented sort of way. And the chorus, sung in a very traditional country-style way, has some of the most solid lyrics on the album: “I’m chilling on a dirt road / laid back, swerving like I’m George Jones / smoke blowing out the window / an ice cold beer sitting in the console / memory lane up in the headlights / has got me reminiscing on the good times.”

The first single off the album, “My Kinda Party,” rocks harder than one might expect from a country song. It’s very drum-heavy and full of hard-hitting guitar riffs, more akin to a ‘90s alternative band than one backing a country star. It continues the lyrical trend on the album of referencing alcohol and partying. Aldean sings on the track, “You can find me in the back of a jacked up tailgate / sitting around watching all these pretty things / I get down in that Georgia clay / I’ll find peace in the bottom of a real tall cold drink / chilling with some Skynyrd and some old Hank.”

The real lyrical strength, however, comes through on “Church Pew or Bar Stool,” a traditional country slow song, complete with twangy guitar and slow arpeggios. The title of the song comes from a description of a town Aldean says is a “church pew or bar stool kind of town,” a town where no one is exactly sure where they are going in life so they pick their form of salvation in either “the whiskey or the Bible / shot glass or revival.”

Much of the album, despite its occasional divergences into experimentation (as seen in “Dirt Road Anthem”), is a solid, rocking country album that newcomers and old fans of the genre should be content with. Each track easily leads into the next, until it becomes almost impossible to listen to just one track without listening to the whole album through. With  run time of just under an hour, the album provides a great, pleasurable experience. They just don’t make albums like this anymore.

My only problem with the album is that it wasn’t released during the summer. The music is perfect for warm weather and torn jeans. I have a feeling if it was released in the summer, you could find me chilling with some Aldean, finding peace in the bottom of a tall, cold drink somewhere on the shores of Lake Superior.