Monday, January 7, 2013

Aaron Lewis: Out On The Road

Homebody's Lament

These are the things that Aaron Lewis would like you to know he loves most, in order:

His children
His wife
His home
His hometown
His Granddaddy’s gun
Hanging out with his wife and kids, at home, 
in Massachusetts, hunting, preferably with a gun of some kind.

It’s a pretty nice, old-fashioned list. It is not the list, one might think, of a rocker who spends a great deal of time playing music out on the road.

This is the crux of Aaron Lewis’s creative output as a bona fide country singer: he’s a conservative homebody who resents anything that takes him away from the things he loves — including music, which is what he does for a living. It seems that he might therefore be a bit morose, but his music doesn’t come across that way; though filled with songs about regret, they are nonetheless upbeat and celebratory, even as they bemoan large chunks of life that are missed.

His latest album, The Road, is a collection of songs that sound like country songs, not least because they feature steel guitar and instrumentation that one hears in more traditional Nashville offerings. It’s a challenge to anyone who might still hold the idea that rock singers can’t be country acts — something that the new crop of young Turks makes clear is woefully out of date. You’re more likely to hear heavy guitar riffs on the country charts than anywhere else these days. And yet Lewis doesn’t shred up the studio on his records; it’s his songwriting and most of all his voice that carries the day.

The album consists of ten tracks, none of which are fillers. If you want twang, you have “75” and “Party In Hell,” which give the album a solid country base. And if you want radio-ready hits, there’s the single “Forever,” and “Granddaddy’s Gun.”

The deluxe version (which The Inky Jukebox highly recommends) offers five additional bonus tracks, all live versions of his best songs, and a surprising but profoundly competent cover of Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most,” proving that a song’s a song’s a song.

Go to 3:40

Lewis’s previous EP, Town Line, was fleshed out with multiple versions of the hit “Country Boy,” the best of which was always and clearly the one with George Jones playing the part of the Devil, accompanied by Charlie Daniels on fiddle. How can you go wrong? But the real gems on that short record were the four songs which never made it onto the radio, ballads with real heart and soul and melody.

The Inky Jukebox would love for him to come to town and play, but would feel awfully guilty for dragging him away from the things he loves to do so.  If you like country music, you’ll like this new record. You should buy it now.

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