2017 CD REVIEW
THEY DON'T KNOW (SONY).
JASON ALDEAN – SUMMER STAMINA
“They're boarding up this water town/ ain't nobody hanging around/ another grey September day/ was I crazy to think she'd stay.” - A Little More Summertime - Wendell Mobley-Tony Martin-Jerry Salley.
When Georgian Jason Aldean toured here in March, 2016, with Florida Georgia Line it was a musical marriage consummated live at Rod Laver Arena.
They blurred the lines between country and pop with sonic stamina at their marathon concert.
Florida Georgia Line members Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley also drove south to Loch Ard Gorge on the Shipwreck Coast where they filmed a video near the famed 12 Apostles with wives Hayley and Brittney for their #1 hit song H.O.L.Y. from third album Dig Your Roots.
They also gave Aldean a nice little earner - recent hit Lights Come On - that they wrote with the Warren Brothers who played the long defunct Continental Café in Prahran.
It's a highlight of Aldean's 15 track seventh album They Don't Know that topped charts on debut.
The title track is a comment by Aldean on critics.
“People are very opinionated about things they're not really aware of,” Aldean revealed.
“But at the same time I'm not going to spend all my time defending myself. I am what I am. People that know me or know my situation, they actually know.”
Aldean wed high school sweetheart, Jessica Ussery on August 4, 2001 - they have two daughters, Kendyl and Keeley.
But on April 25, 2013, seven months after Aldean admitted an affair with American Idol contestant Brittany Kerr, he revealed he and Jessica had separated in January.
Aldean filed for divorce on April 26, citing irreconcilable differences.
On September 24, 2014, Aldean, now 40 and Kerr, 26, announced their engagement and wed on March 21, 2015.
Jason confessed that Brittany may love him but not all his music.
“I'll play songs for her, but it's hard because she's not a fan of a lot of the stuff I'm a fan of,” Aldean says.
“She's not big into rock music, and that's one of my biggest influences. She doesn't get that whole side of it. She's more hip-hop, R&B, pop stuff.”
Aldean says his album focuses on positivity - “anytime you're in a place where you can relax and when you're happy, that's going to make everything else better.”
Brittany appears in his video for A Little More Summertime featured on March 18 in Series #32 of Nu Country TV .
“It was one of the first songs we found for the record, and to me, there was just something really cool melodically about it, it was a little different than some of the things we've had in the past,” Aldean revealed.
“The thing that really grabbed me was the U2 guitar stuff going on right before the chorus. You know, that was kinda the vibe I gave the band when we went in to cut the song I was like, ‘If there's a vibe we're going after, it's U2 . Just think about that when you're playing it.' It was just really cool.”
A Little More Summertime was written by Wendell Mobley, Tony Martin and Keith Urban's long-time guitarist Jerry Flowers.
Mobley has written No. 1 hits for artists diverse as Rascal Flatts and Kenny Chesney, and Aldean says his demo of A Little More Summertime was hard to live up to.
“He sang the daylights out of the demo, and it was one of those that you listen to and you go, ‘man, I hope my version sounds as good as the demo because his was really good,'” Aldean said of the song on an album that combines mid-tempo ballads with anthemic country-pop hits.
“I think it gets back to one of the things I was talking about earlier that we were missing on the last album. It's one of those songs that tells the story and lays it out for you and sort of paints the picture and I feel like that's something we got away from before,” he continues, “so putting this song out was kind of a way to get back on track with that.”
ANY OLD BARSTOOL
“Ask any old barstool in this town/ ask my new found party crowd/ sure I take more jack in my coke now/ a little more high in my smoke now/ sure I stay till they're all long gone/ and I take the long way home/ but I ain't sitting around/ trying to drown the thought of you/ ask any old barstool.” - Any Old Barstool - Josh Thompson-Derek Ruttan
“I really wanted to start this new album with one of those big up-tempos,” said Aldean.
“So, for it to click right away with fans and radio is a really cool way to start. With all the records we've done, we've been able to explore new sounds and really just do things our own way, and that's sort of what the title track is all about.”
Aldean generates sexual urgency on Coming in Hot, One We Won't Forget and Bad - three songs co-written by Rodney Clawson who also collaborated on his early hits including Hicktown, Amarillo Sky and Why.
“I look at it like being an actor, man,” says Aldean who appeared in the 2013 movie Sweetwater it was a natural ascent from roles in vibrant videos that made him one of the hottest country artists.
It enabled him to develop acting skills for future roles in a career that embraces country rap and hick hop.
“It was cool, I had a chance to work with Ed Harris who is great, and January Jones,” Aldean told Nu Country TV in 2015 in a call from Kentucky .
“It was great. It prepared me if I wanted to do something a little bigger. In very movie you have a good guy and a bad guy. In this movie the bad guy was the preacher. I was kind of the guy who did all the dirty work for him. It was pretty cool thing to see yourself on the screen in a motion picture.”
The movie, set in 1886 in the New Mexico frontier, finds Aldean in cinematic footsteps of fellow singing actors Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Tim McGraw.
“I think anybody has probably experienced something like that over their lifetime, and you can relate to those things. It doesn't necessarily have to be how you feel now. I think it's just a matter of getting in character for the song. And it's the same thing onstage every night - you know, you sort of put yourself in that spot so that you can sing it with a little more conviction and people can believe it a little more.”
DUET WITH KELSEA BALLERINI
“The mention of your name, that's all it takes/ my heart re-breaks, my whole world shakes/ and it's flashback driveway pouring rain/ nothing I could do nothing I could say/ to slow you down and right now/ it's like the first time watching you walk away/ begging baby please just stay/ feeling every second of the clock tick by/ on an endless night.” - First Time Again - Jason Boyer-Michael Tyler-Blake Bolinger-Ben Stennis
Aldean chose Tennessean Kelsea Ballerini as his duet partner on break-up song First Time Again - written by Jason Boyer, Michael Tyler, Blake Bollinger and Ben Stennis.
It examines pain when a relationship ends.
Singing in the first person, Aldean plays the part of the dumped, while Ballerini plays the one who leaves on a rainy night.
But both hearts feel their dying inside every time there is a recollection of the love they once shared.
They endure endless, sleepless nights and put on brave faces when they're with friends but it's a heartache that won't let up.
“We weren't really planning on that song being a duet when I recorded it originally,” Aldean revealed.
“My producer Michael Knox and I started talking about it a little bit. We ended up trying to get her in the studio but she was out on tour with Rascal Flatts . Fortunately, Jay DeMarcus helped us out and recorded her vocals. He sent it to us to mix, so it worked out well. We called Jay and sent the track out and just asked if he could record her singing it, and he did, sent it back to us, and we did everything else here,”
Aldean became one of Ballerini's fans after hearing her No. 1 hit Peter Pan on the radio but didn't meet her until much later at the American Country Music Awards show.
“I had heard her songs and I thought she had a cool voice,” Jason said.
“But then I heard Peter Pan and you could hear vocally what she could do. That was when it kind of turned my head a little bit. But I've had a chance to hang out with her some and she's really down to earth and cool. I was happy to have her on there.”
“Honestly, with First Time Again , we were looking for somebody to possibly do this duet with, and her name came up and, really, it was when I heard the Peter Pan song - that I kinda started to listen to her voice and go, ‘Well, I haven't really heard her sing like that yet,' and so that was when it kind of caught my attention.”
Aldean says he loved working with Ballerini but wished their collaboration could have happened in the same town in the same studio.
“She's cool - she's one of the coolest, nicest people in town, super sweet and obviously off to a great start in her career and I was glad to be able to have her on the album and be part of it.”
Kelsea, 23, and Novocastrian singer Morgan Evans, now 31, were engaged on Christmas Day in 2016 - just over nine months after they met while hosting the CMC Music Awards in Brisbane in March.
THIS PLANE DON'T GO THERE
“But this plane don't go there/ this plane can't take me back in time/ I could go anywhere but I can't go back to that night/ if I could, I would, I swear but this plane don't go there.” - This Plane Don't Go There - Neil Thrasher-Tom Shapiro-Lee Miller.
“Growing up and loving country music, that's just a part of it,” Aldean explained.
“Some of the best material you can have are the heartache songs,” Aldean says. “I love that, man. I think that's what country music was built on - songs like that - so I love being able to do it.
"I like to go out and turn it up to 10 and have fun and get loud, but also - don't forget that, when it comes down to it, I can actually sing, too."
Aldean also included songs penned by his road band members Kurt Allison and Tully Kennedy - co-founders of New Voice Entertainment who also play on the album.
“Tully and Kurt have been writing a lot lately and came to the table with a few songs for this record that were really cool including the title track,” he said.
“Kurt was a writer on They Don't Know . It's cool to be able to not only cut songs by your friends, but the fact that they're great songs is cool.”
Another song Allison and Kennedy brought to Aldean was Reason to Love L.A . , co-written with Michael Dulaney and Jason Sever.
“It's sort of a love-hate relationship with Los Angeles ,” Aldean said of the song that yearns for tranquillity of small towns.
“I can't handle it taking you 30 minutes to go two miles on the freeway. It's a little too hectic for me. That was another one of those songs that I thought fit with the rest of the record. It was relatable to me, so it was kind of a no-brainer.”
Small town embryonic love memories also fuel The Way A Night Should Feel that segues into Reason To Love L.A . and fitting finale When The Lights Go Out .