Album Review: Jason Aldean – Relentless

Brody Vercher | May 29th, 2007

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.

2.5 Stars

  1. Linda Banks
    May 29, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    Nice review; thanks.

    That is a tough looking album cover, isn’t it?

  2. Ed
    May 29, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    Spot on review. If Jason would sell the songs a little better, it might pull this above “average” territory. “Back in this Cigarette” is a standout track, imo. What I find odd is the song selection. It’s as if Aldean’s people would prefer lackluster songs from upper tier songwriters than upper tier songs from lesser known writers. A word to the unwise; country listeners don’t care who’s on the credits, just what goes into their ears, and this one’s dull.

  3. Chris N.
    May 29, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    Appropriating the sacred name of Johnny Cash to sell your workaday uptempo summer single is a grave and grievous sin. Forty lashes for all involved!

  4. Brody Vercher
    May 30, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Linda: It is indeed. Think marketing had anything to do with his image?

    Ed: I liked the lyrics for “Back In the Cigarette” as well.

    Chris: Preach it brother man. I’ve made the same point elsewhere and didn’t want it to appear like I was beating a dead horse, so I left my comments on that out of the review.

  5. Linda Banks
    May 30, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Oh, Brody, Brody, Brody. So cynical. Is country music a business now? When did that happen?

  6. Kristen
    May 30, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    Well I for one LOVE this CD!! Back in This Cigarette, No, Who Kissing You Tonight, Do You Wish It Was Me, and Not Every Man Lives are some of my favorites, but I LOVE them all!!

  7. Dave S
    May 31, 2007 at 5:45 am

    I hope people don’t think I’m a complainer, but it seems like all the albums I buy and can’t stop listening to, the 9513 is always putting down.

    Brody, I can’t believe you wrote that review without even mentioning “Back In This Cigarette.” It’s arguably the best track on the album, and it seems like you deliberately ignored it.

    Another thing, “Grown Woman” is the most emotional song on that CD and it’s the one I’m always repeating. Even though Lambert only sings harmony on the track, it can still match the memorableness of many other country duets. In a world of female revenge, it’s about time a male artist points out the cruelty of women… and I’m not talking about songs like “How Am I Doin” by Dierks Bentley.

  8. Brody Vercher
    May 31, 2007 at 7:03 am

    Dave, I didn’t mention anything about “Do You Wish It Was Me”, “Who’s Kissing You Tonight”, “Relentless”, or “I Break Everything I Touch” either, so to say that I deliberately ignored “Back In This Cigarette” is ludicrous. In the interest of brevity I only touched on a few songs (generally it’s the ones that give me the strongest reaction).

    Despite your points on “Grown Woman”, I still have to respectfully disagree.

  9. Josh Lewis
    May 31, 2007 at 7:14 am

    I for one, have a respect for this web site, now even more so, as it seems to be a genuinely smart reviewship instead of a fan magazine…more informative and even biased. so thanks for that.

    And thanks for calling it like it is…this record is not authentic and thats what it really comes down to.

  10. Chris N.
    May 31, 2007 at 8:57 am

    We’re in the same boat, Brody. The outraged Aldean fan letters are starting to come in about my own two-and-a-half-star review.

    Sample: “Obviously, whoever wrote this review doesn’t know good country music when they hear it.”

  11. Brody Vercher
    May 31, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Josh – Sometimes I let my biases get in the way, but I try to be upfront about it when they do.

    Chris – Was your review in the magazine?

    And, the Country Weekly website needs an RSS feed so I know when it gets updated!

  12. Chris N.
    May 31, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Dammit, I wrote a whole long comment and something went haywire. To sum up:

    — Issue with the review comes out Monday, but apparently a few subscribers get it early.

    — RSS feed? We’re lucky to have a website at all!

    — Speaking of which:

  13. Austin
    May 31, 2007 at 9:58 am

    I’ve listened to a few songs off of the album, and enjoyed it. Sometimes, I find myself singing “Johnny Cash”. I’d say “We Ain’t Never Comin’ Back” is a more appropriate title for the song, but what can I say.

  14. Joe
    June 7, 2007 at 9:12 am

    Hey thanks to all who mentioned my song “Back In This Cigarette”…glad some of you dug it…it was fun to write and I dig Jason’s version..peace and thanks for buying the CD

  15. EVE
    September 24, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    Chris: May I suggest you realize that Jason didn’t title this song nor write it…..
    You can blame marketing genius John Rich for this quote un quote SIN……….
    as Jason just delivered the stories in these songs, maybe you could write up on his delivery more less on lyrics!
    Sad but true….

  16. Chris N.
    September 25, 2007 at 8:28 am

    I’m well aware of who wrote the song. Jason chose to record it, which I’d take as a pretty clear endorsement of the song. Jason’s delivery is fine, but not distinctive enough to elevate the quality of the song.

  17. John
    March 13, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    The worst singer I’ve ever seen
    Was some short guy named Jason Aldean
    In a cowboy hat
    Man, I laughed at that

    The little dude thought he could sing
    Sporting a couple of ladies earrings
    Looking like some brat
    With a voice so flat

    Oh, man, he was willing
    But my ears, he was killing
    The Chesney legacy has no pride
    I laughed until I cried

  18. joe
    June 9, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    this is the first time i’ve been on this site and i have to strongly disagree with this review. i am a longtime country fan. i love george strait, alan jackson, mark chesnutt, and “real” country singers. I LOVE THIS CD! i really like every song on it. I hope Jason continues to roll out good music like this!

  19. Gus
    June 29, 2008 at 4:58 am

    I’m 5’10 and Jason is taller than me.

  20. Natasha
    November 21, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Maybe you should listen to every song on his albums before you go making your own=]. .he rocks theres more to him than his songs the man can put on a show=] and by the way Jason is 6’0 =] so no little guy!=]

  21. Natasha
    November 21, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    and the lyrics to Use What I Got Are “I Use What I Got,Take What I Get,GIVE til I aint got nothing left,then I give it some more,keep on climbing up that mountain”. .which is basically telling everyone he did make it and hes proud and he did everything he could to make his dreams come true. .no clue how you can easily get lost in that song?

  22. Stormy
    November 21, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    I thought what I got you gotta give it to your mama….

    Anyone else feel like a drink of water?

  23. Mel
    March 27, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    This album is one of the best country albums I have ever heard and I love every song. Don’t get me wrong I love the Alan Jackson’s and George Straits’s of the world but Jason is down dirty and gritty sounding.

  24. Case
    June 3, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    I have to totally disagree with your reviews. Compared to alot of this new country out now, Jason Aldean is a high grade country singer. And this album is by far the best he has put out. Every song on it is above average in my opinion. I cannot believe how much you have put down on this album. Hate to knock your review, but I had to speak my piece.

  25. Stormy
    June 4, 2009 at 9:25 am

    But see the question I have is why I have to compare Jason Aldean to the worst in country music for him to be “good.”

  26. Jeff
    June 25, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Jason isn’t going to appeal to the hardcore country fans. He edges more towards old-school rock. If you like his sound, this album rocks. For the hardcore critics, it isn’t genuine. Don’t you love how subjective music can be?! It’s why I love it :)

    I’d rather listen to him putting out his sound than the impostors like Jason M. Carroll, Keith Urban, or wannabe-Jimmy-Buffet Kenny Chesney.

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