Although Jason Aldean doesn’t have a predictable sound – his music ranges from standard rock arrangements, to tracks incorporating subtle pop/dance elements – he does have a relatively consistent sonic attitude. He’s that tough country guy, always ready to party like a man, yet never so tough that he scares off the ladies. And his Rearview Town is filled with representative songs that uphold his established reputation.
While Aldean does his established thing well, it is songs that break from his pre-determined image that shine brightest on this latest effort. “Better at Being Who I Am,” which is a quiet, contemplative song, reveals the all-too-rarely-seen vulnerable side of this musical John Wayne. And “You Make It Easy,” which sways to an enjoyable soul groove, offers up much appreciated stylistic variety. It was surprising to learn how Miranda Lambert helped on this project because she just didn’t – on paper – seem like a good fit. However, “Drown the Whiskey,” with its unique spin on a drinking song, is the album’s most country track – especially due to the way steel guitar is especially upfront in the mix – is a clear winner. Aldean and Lambert don’t trade verses for a true duet, but Miranda’s distinctive vocal is impossible to miss.
The album’s title track is a slow-burn breakup song. It includes driving electric guitar groove, much like so many other Aldean tracks. These types of tracks give cause to question Aldean’s country music credibility. If he didn’t sing with such a strong Southern accent, it’d be tough to make the case that this song is truly country. But given county music’s current sonic identity crisis, it’s country enough for country radio at least. Rearview Town features enough Aldean-y songs to keep his fanbase satisfied. Better still, there are a goodly number of memorable exceptions to his stylistic predictability that may just bring a few new admirers into the fold.