It’s always easy to sit down and write a scathing review of an album that is aimed for mainstream music audiences. I get why some people out there may criticize Jason Aldean for being nothing more than a product of that mainstream, but what’s wrong with making music for the mainstream? I will admit to being a bigger fan of stuff aimed at the mainstream and as a ‘critic’ it can often be a bad place to be. This is only because as a ‘tastemaker’ with an audience, I’m supposed to be some ‘hipster’ who loves only the ‘traditional’ or ‘alternative’ sides of country music. But if every writer was one of those kinds of tastemakers, who would be there to tell fans of the mainstream if they will like My Kinda Party or not? So if you’re looking to read a review that is nothing more than drivel aimed at a small, small audience, then go ahead and move on for I’ll make it patently clear: I like Jason Aldean’s music and I like My Kind of Country.
If you’re still with me by now, then it’s time to get to what you’re here for, my thoughts on My Kinda Party.
The lead-off single from the album is the title track written and originally recorded by fellow Georgia-native Brantley Gilbert. “My Kinda Party” is a song that melds the country & roll swagger of “Hicktown” with the charm of “Big Green Tractor.” Some of those people I mentioned above may have derided the song as ‘yet another obnoxious redneck party anthem’ but not only does it play well to the audience that is buying Aldean’s records, it is downright many of these people’s life. It appeals to the young male record buying audience who think Aldean is cool while the girls buy the record because they think he’s hot. The second Brantley Gilbert song on this album is “Dirt Road Anthem.” Written and originally performed by Gilbert and popular southern country “rapper” Colt Ford, “Dirt Road Anthem” has spoken (rapped) verses and sung choruses. Aldean shows off an ability to flow the lyrics in a melodic manner and while this tune isn’t likely to be a hit at country radio, it will be a highlight of the “My Kinda Party” tour (if it isn’t already). It also plays well to Jason’s willingness to take chances with his music and not just ‘play it safe’ and release the same two or three songs and albums over and over again.
Another ‘chance’ Jason took on My Kinda Party is his duet with pop star Kelly Clarkson. From her earliest days on American Idol’s first season, I thought that Kelly Clarkson should’ve been a country singer. She’s had one duet hit with Reba’s ‘cover’ of “Because of You” and now she will likely have another one with “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” It’s an emotional and epic ballad about a couple who feel great in the moment but want to try and make the situation last, an emotional feeling that is completely relatable to both men and women. A couple other songs that get at affairs of the heart are the laid back “Just Passin’ Through,” “See You When I See You” and “The Heartache That Don’t Stop Hurting.”
Aside from that lead single, My Kinda Party is not at all the gutsy country rock & roll of the title tune. There are songs like “Texas And You” and “It Ain’t Easy” which are the kind of arena ready tunes that fill concert set lists while interesting mid-tempo ballads “If She Could See Me Now” and “Days Like These” show off new sides to Aldean’s repertoire. There are a few songs that feel connected together like “Tattoos On This Town,” and “Church Pew or Bar Stool” and “Fly Over Town.” These songs talk about various small towns that make up the meat of America and Country Music’s audience. “Church Pew or Bar Stool” feels like a future hit which is actually something that could be said about the majority of this album. And that’s exactly what’s to like about My Kinda Party. It’s an easily listenable album that feels like the soundtrack to the lives of people who run from the twentysomething and the thirtysomething age groups that Jason Aldean (and I) are a part of.
The production from Jason’s longtime producer Michael Knox is very strong and this, as their fourth album finds the artist and producer knowing what does and doesn’t work for Jason Aldean yet they’re still willing to take chances by primarily recording with Jason’s road band (which includes Rich Redmond Kurt Allison and Tully Kennedy) and cutting songs like “Dirt Road Anthem” and dueting with pop stars instead of a country star. These kinds of chances may not be ‘cool’ to fans of y’allternative but in mainstream land, they showcase an artist willing to grow and change and become a better artist because of it. My Kind of Party is Jason Aldean’s strongest album to date and he may just be one of country music’s best at making complete albums that are ‘all killer, no filler.”
If you prefer your music to be more than ones and zeroes you can purchase the CD at Amazon.