Album Review: Jason Aldean – Relentless
If Miranda Lambert is the current poster child for the bad girl of country music, then Jason Aldean is her male counterpart. An image seemingly played up on the cover of his sophomore album that finds Aldean peering out from underneath his low-brimmed hat and sporting a tight-fitting, black leather jacket with a popped collar.
Relentless kicks off with the much ballyhooed “Johnny Cash”, in which the character more or less says adios to his job and hits the road. There’s more screaming than singing, but it makes a good pick-me up song for those looking to get the blood flowing before a workout. If you’re wanting a blue-collar-worker giving-his-job-the-stiff-arm kind of song, I’d recommend Johnny Cash’s “Oney”.
Aldean tries his hand at nostalgia with the sentimentally rich “Laughed Until We Cried”. The lyrics are decent, but the tired formula fails to tug at the listener’s heart strings. Part of the fault lies with Aldean’s failure to sell the song with his vocals, a theme that crops up more than once on the remainder of the album.
Although not written by Aldean, “I Use What I Got” comes off as a more than a little pompous, like he’s thumbing his nose at those who said he wouldn’t make it. The lyrics almost sound rushed when he sings “I use what I got, I take what I get, ’till I ain’t got nothing left.” It’d be easy to get lost in the success of his debut album, but a little humility wouldn’t hurt. Long careers, a strong debut does not make.
Like “Laughed Until We Cried”, “My Memory Ain’t What It Used To Be” is a good song, but the same basic theme has been done before, and much better. Check out “Why We Said Goodbye” by Tim McGraw and “Why Did We Ever Say Goodbye” by Brandon Jenkins for reference.
Miranda Lambert makes an appearance to sing a duet/background vocals with Aldean on “Grown Woman”. A song in which the singer laments that a grown woman should have known better than to use him and throw him out like old lipstick. The Lambert duet sounds enticing, but in the end there’s nothing special about the song.
For me, the stand out track on the album doesn’t come until the very end with “Not Every Man Lives”. Aldean sings “the truth is every man dies, but not every man lives, I wanna paint outside the lines, run the red lights in my mind”. It could easily be the anthem for those with desk jobs, the corporate drones who do nothing but go to work every day, but want to break away from the monotony of crunching numbers…or designing websites.
The majority of the songs on Relentless sound void of any passion. Aldean does a lot of yelling, and after a while some songs bleed into others as far as sound goes (ie: they start sounding the same). He can sing the slower ballad songs, but they don’t stand out. He excels at the mid-tempo and driving/edgy songs. All in all, I don’t feel like this album lived up to his debut, but that’s going to be subjective to whoever you ask.
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