Jason Aldean – They Don’t Know: Aldean returns but is it ‘Old Boots, Same Dirt’?

To say I love Jason Aldean’s voice would be an understatement. He could probably sing the alphabet and I would enjoy it, and he is definitely one of my favourite vocalists . ‘They Don’t Know’ is Jason Aldean’s seventh album and the follow up to ‘Old Boots, New Dirt’, which is the first album I ever listened to of his, and safe to say he had big expectations from me for his new material.

Jason Aldean successfully combines punchy guitar solos with sultry vocals on songs that will make you feel the heat of summer as you’re driving along in your car. He’s often regarded as one of the main ‘Bro Country’ artists but I feel that does him a disservice. Yes, many of his songs are about beautiful women, partying, and drinking, but he successfully combines the southern ideals of hard work and respecting where you’re from with rock inspired guitar solos.

‘They Don’t Know’ opens with ‘Lights Come On’ which is a cracking start to the album. Written by the boys from Florida Georgia Line, it’s one of those tracks you can imagine would be amazing live and it completely draws you into the album. ‘When the lights come on and everybody’s screamin’. Lighters in the sky yeah everybody’s singin” sums up the live, anthem feeling of the song. It’s easy to see why he picked it as the first single from the album. It’s a classic Aldean song and well worth a listen.

It’s then followed by the second single from the album ‘A Little More Summertime’. It’s a nice song, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. Aldean’s strengths are in ballads and anthems and this doesn’t fit into either category as it’s a little bit in the middle. It’s not an overly memorable track, but it’s laid back attitude makes it nice all the same.

Track three ‘This Plane Don’t Go There’ follows a similar vein. It feels a little bit like a lacklustre album filler, which is disappointing after the brilliant opening.

Things really start to heat up again with ‘Comin’ In Hot’, it’s much more of the same feel as the big tracks on ‘Old Boots, New Dirt’ and Aldean is back doing what he does best. It’s a catchy song, with a big punchy sound and I promise you will have this stuck in your head all day.

Next up is an unusual duet, with Kelsea Ballerini. I’m a fan of both, but I wasn’t sure how their voices would sound together, so I was definitely excited to give this a listen. It builds up brilliantly, with Aldean’s deep voice leading beautifully into Ballerini’s. My only reservation with the song is that his voice overwhelms hers on the chorus. But if you want to check out a fantasic Jason Aldean duet, then listen to his song with Kelly Clarkson ‘Don’t You Wanna Stay’. So good they both put it on their albums!

‘Bad’ takes you right back into the same place as ‘Comin’ In Hot’. It’s a slightly cliché idea, with the chorus of ‘When you’re good, you’re good, But when you’re bad, you’re better’ but I like it. It’s the track I’ve come to expect Aldean to put on his albums. It’s catchy, upbeat, and perfect to sing along to.

Track seven is the next single, and title track, which will be released officially next month (May 2017). The theme of the song really reminds me of ‘The Only Way We Know’ Aldean’s track with Eric Church and Luke Bryan, which celebrates growing up in a small town, working hard on the land, and respecting and loving where you grew up. These are classic southern themes and it makes for an enjoyable song. It’s a great small town anthem.

‘One We Won’t Forget’ continues the anthem feel for the album and it’s got the classic Jason Aldean sound. Personally, I find it a brilliant summer driving song, it makes you want to put your sunglasses on and sing like no-one is listening.

Aldean follows this with a beautiful, rich, southern ballad ‘Whiskey’d Up’. It’s the perfect song for Aldean’s vocals as his whiskey smooth vocals are the focus on this heartbreaker. It builds up beautifully and tells the tale of a man who lets his guard down whenever he drinks and how he misses the woman he loves. ‘It’s just like you all warm and smooth, Even though I know that you don’t miss me, It’s like you’re here with me, When I get whiskey’d up.’ I am a big fan of when Aldean turns his vocals to ballads and I really love this song.

Following this ballad, Aldean sings his spring break song ‘In Case You Don’t Remember’ where he reminisces about the good times and the girl he loved. Similar to some other tracks, it doesn’t really go anywhere and it’s not Aldean at his best. I like the lyrics and how he sings them, but I wish the music moved with the song and that he built his vocals up more to help make it more of a standout track.

‘All Out of Beer’ was another track I was happily belting along whilst driving. It features the classic ‘I’m trying to resist you but I’m drunk and lonely’ theme which is common with Aldean. It’s not a life-changer, but it’s a solid song and very enjoyable.

Next up is ‘Any Ol’ Barstool’ which is his current single and number one on the country airplay charts (his nineteenth!). Lyrically, I really like this song, it’s all about a guy who’s in denial about being in love with his ex and he’s trying to convince her he doesn’t love her anymore. It’s a song which has grown on me over time. I was surprised when it was announced as a single on the album, but through radio airplay I’ve grown to enjoy the song more and more.

He follows up with a softer song ‘The Way a Night Should Feel’. But the addition of the electric guitars is a good move, as it rocks up a softer song and makes it sound much more like an Aldean track. For me, the guitars are the main focus of the song and the lyrics and vocals are a little left behind. It’s a bit of a disappointing song, I feel it had more potential but instead it ends up feeling like an album filler.

We’re all used to country singers name dropping places in their songs, but LA isn’t one of the places I normally associate with this! But this track is a true highlight of the album, it tells of Aldean’s love of his small home town but that love makes him visit LA and fall in love with it. ‘Reason to Love LA’ builds up perfectly and Aldean’s vocals on the chorus are beautiful as it really demonstrates his deep tones. ‘The wheels just touched down in California, Man I don’t even like to fly.’ This track is a great example of how music, vocals, and lyrics can really compliment each other to make a beautiful song.

The final song on the album is ‘Lights Go Out’. I really enjoy the opening and closing tracks focusing on lights, it gives the album a theme and always makes me feel the sense of a full live performance. It’s a nice finish to the album, I feel it works to embody the whole album and is a nice summary. It picks up on Jason Aldean’s smooth vocal feel whilst combined with the same electric guitar sound as the rest of album. It’s a great way to summarise the feel of the album.

Track Listing

1. Lights Come On
2. A Little More Summertime
3. This Plane Don’t Go There
4. Comin’ In Hot
5. First Time Again
6. Bad
7. They Don’t Know
8. One We Won’t Forget
9. Whiskey’d Up
10. In Case You Don’t Remember
11. All Out Of Beer
12. Any Ol’ Barstool
13. The Way A Night Should Feel
14. Reason To Love LA
15. When the Lights Go Out

Overall

Overall, it’s a good solid album. For me, it follows a very similar vein to ‘Old Boots, New Dirt’ but it doesn’t have as many stand out tracks and has a slightly more laid back feel. Also, none of the tracks have been written by Aldean, which is a real shame. I enjoyed the album, but sadly it’s not ‘Night Train’ or ‘My Kinda Party’, however I enjoy the summer feel of the album and I will definitely be singing it loudly in my car. Plus, he looks like he’s currently working on writing the next album so I am looking forward to hearing more from him!

Recommended Tracks

Lights Come On, Whiskey’d Up, Reason To Love LA

Six Shooter Rating

7 out of 10

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