Album Review: Jason Aldean – My Kinda Party
Despite his love of namedropping classic country singers—on this record, “ol’ Hank” and George Jones get cited, and of course there was “Johnny Cash,” the 2007 single that had nothing to do with the Man in Black aside from the statement that he will “rock your ass”—Jason Aldean still has more in common with Molly Hatchet than Merle Haggard. That said, his fourth album, My Kinda Party includes some of his most enjoyable and mature work to date.
He sticks to what works for him: songs about small towns, parties, girls, and partying with girls in small towns. The album’s two strongest songs, “Church Pew or Bar Stool” and “Tattoos on this Town” offer up differing views of life in a small town, which can be both incredibly rewarding and incredibly stifling. “Church Pew” is reminiscent of “Amarillo Sky” in terms of gravity, as the lyrics have Aldean trying to get out of a dying town where life revolves around either the bottle or the Bible. “Tattoos,” meanwhile, is a little more positive, recognizing the advantages of rural, tight-knit life without resorting to idealization.
His collaboration with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay” is a guilty pleasure for those of us who have a soft spot for overwrought ’80s ballads like “I Want to Know What Love Is” or “Glory of Love.” Clarkson is a far stronger singer than her duet partner here, but she scales back a bit and the two make it work, sounding surprisingly good together (and far better than the pair sounded on last month’s CMA Awards broadcast).
Though My Kinda Party does have some of the best songs of Aldean’s career, it also has its fair share of clunkers, starting with the title track and leadoff single. “My Kinda Party,” written by Brantley Gilbert, is generic country rock that sounds as though it’s been recorded by Aldean half a dozen times before. Meanwhile, the version of Colt Ford’s “Dirt Road Anthem” is just awful: if you’re going to include rapping in a country song, at least have rhymes with a little more heft and creativity than “I’m tired of talkin’, man, y’all ain’t listenin’/Them old dirt roads is what y’all missin’.”
“Country Boy’s World,” about a Jersey girl who moves South, is “Good Directions” minus the charm and plus several more clichés. Never mind that some of the Southern staples mentioned in the lyrics that said girl has allegedly never experienced, like the smell of wildflowers and a field lit up with fireflies, can actually be found in the exotic lands of South Jersey; there’s nothing remotely interesting, catchy, or captivating about this song, placing it squarely in the category of album filler. Same goes for “Just Passing Through,” a love song whose lyrics “I’m just here to love you, girl/It’s your world and I’m just passing through” make it a perfect anthem for a relationship in which one of the participants has no sense of self worth. At least it’s catchy.
Though My Kinda Party isn’t an album that’ll convert many nonfans, Aldean’s longtime listeners should be delighted.
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