Entertainment, On A High Note

Album review: Jason Aldean goes back to his roots on “They Don’t Know”

If there’s one thing that Jason Aldean does best, it’s bringing to life the two topics at the heart of country music: heartbreak and harboring a love of life, and Aldean demonstrates both in full force on his new album, “They Don’t Know.” The new project incorporates his early sound that helped launched the singer into super stardom back in 2008.

Aldean's new album features the No. 1 hit, "Lights Come On." PHOTO COURTESY JASON ALDEAN

Aldean’s new album features the No. 1 hit, “Lights Come On.” PHOTO COURTESY JASON ALDEAN

“I really wanted to start this new album with one of those big up-tempos,” said Aldean in a press release about the project. And boy did he deliver on that one. “They Don’t Know” kicks off with rugged, chart-topping hit “Lights Come On,” which serves as a strong way to draw the listener into the album. You can already hear the stadium full of fans singing and rocking along to every word just a few moments into the song, and apparently so can Aldean, as he chants lyrics like “Lighters in the sky, everybody’s singing every word to every song…the party we throw is going all night long” and gets the listener pumped for what’s coming next.

Aldean then states what’s on everybody’s mind with his current single, ”A Little More Summertime,” as he longs for the sun to stay longer in the sky and make the summertime memories last. “It’s always been about the vibe of a song for me,” says Aldean about the single. “So when that chorus hits and the song takes off, I knew it had to be on this album.” He follows up the track with the strong “This Plane Don’t Go There,” which may find one reminiscing of “Fly Over States,” as it tells the story of a heartbroken man wanting to go back in time to win back the woman he loves. The listener can feel Aldean’s pleading heart as he croons “I could go anywhere, I can’t go back to that night, if I could I would I swear, but this plane don’t go there.” The song shows off his powerful voice that really pulls you into both the song and its imploring lyrics.

A personal favorite comes in the form of “First Time Again” featuring country trailblazer Kelsea Ballerini. It’s almost melancholy tone mixes with the singers’ sense of yearning as they long for lost love. “It’s like the first time watching you walk away…the first time seeing you with someone new…I’m always missing you for the first time again,” sings Aldean, backed by the sound of haunting violins that make for a dynamic element to the song. And speaking of dynamic elements, Ballerini serves as a solid addition to the track, proving that she can croon with the best of them, with her voice blending seamlessly with Aldean’s and bringing to life his heartache just as well as the lead singer himself.

The melody to the album’s title track may remind one of his 2014 hit, “Just Gettin’ Started,” with a strong energy that draws you into the song. Aldean is calling out to small-town America, singing to all the farmers, tractor drivers and small town heroes that know it takes hard work to survive. “They ain’t seeing the blood, sweat and tears it took to live their dreams,” he says to all the outsiders who don’t realize the amount of hard work it takes to make a life for yourself in a small town and is so much more than the “middle of nowhere place” they think it is.

Jason Aldean at 2016 CMA Fest. PHOTO BY LARRY DARLING

Jason Aldean at 2016 CMA Fest. PHOTO BY LARRY DARLING

“In Case You Don’t Remember” is another of the album’s standout tracks that harbors a sweet melody as Aldean once again wears his heart on his sleeve as he tells a former lover that he’s keeping all the memories they’ve made that she’s decided to toss away. Aldean convincingly sings “There was magic in the air everywhere that we touched down,” painting an image in the listener’s mind of the vibrant love that once lived between these two people.

Aldean has managed to both breathe new life into his career while simultaneously bringing back his original sound that fans know and love him for. In a genre that’s as booming as country, Aldean has seamlessly carved a path for himself that continues to take him in new directions. “They Don’t Know” is a strong step forward, but also incorporates some of the best of his musical past.

“They Don’t Know” is available now. For more information, visit his official website.