Lyrically, Lewis focuses on tried and true country subject themes, including a road song (“The Road”), one about patriotism (“Red, White & Blue”) and gun-powdered weaponry (“Granddaddy’s Gun”). What separates Lewis’ approach from other rockers that may have tried their hand at country music is how this guy isn’t merely pandering to the Southern lifestyle. Rather, he’s singing sincerely about topics he understands because he lives that lifestyle, naturally. He may never have worked as a trucker, but he nevertheless knows from first-hand experience what it means to live on the road, and is why he can sing something like “The Road” so convincingly.
One of the brightest spots on this album is an honest-to-goodness actual happy tune in “Endless Summer.” No, it’s not a surfing song, as the title may suggest. Instead, it’s a simple celebration of summertime. The best part of the song arrives when Lewis hears his little girl singing along to the radio, but it’s not to a Miley Cyrus song. And for goodness sake, Lewis gives every appearance of enjoying himself while performing it, which is a rarity. He’s like that guy in the family or at work that never smiles in pictures. So to hear him have fun singing a lighthearted song is nearly an event. “Endless Summer” is also the album’s first single, so maybe there’s even a bit of an image makeover going on in Lewis’ career.
As usual, Lewis wrote all but one of these songs. And it’s the gun song, “Granddaddy’s Gun,” that was penned by Rhett Atkins, Dallas Davidson and Bobby Pinson. His songs may not be poetry, but they’re all sincere and heartfelt. They also show that Lewis has learned his lessons well from listening to country music all his life.
Lewis co-produced the album with Nashville veteran James Stroud, and fills it with plenty of traditional instrumentation, including no shortage of pedal steel or fiddle. In fact, his music sounds a whole lot more country than guys like Jason Aldean and Eric Church, even though each of these men are now in the upper echelon of country male vocalists. Let’s face it; both of those men would have only made it as Southern rockers, not country artists, back in the classic rock era.
Here’s to hoping Nashville gives Aaron Lewis’ The Road a fighting chance because it’s so much more than a mere vanity project. It was easy at first to be suspicious of this singer/songwriter’s intentions, back when he initially began talking about venturing into country music. It was also easy to get skeptical about his overall prospects after the lukewarm results of his Town Line EP. But the proof is in the pudding, and The Road is positive proof that Aaron Lewis’ has the musical goods and can most certainly deliver.
Best of all, many of these songs force Lewis to get out of himself and just write good songs, instead of wallowing in his pain, as he tends to do with Staind. Let’s hope albums like The Road are just the beginning.