Jason Aldean is a juggernaut in Country music. A consistent album seller with countless number one singles under his belt, he’s without a doubt one of the biggest stars the genre has seen for years. Since his self-titled debut in 2005, Aldean has found his own lane combining rock and Country for a sound that’s always easily identifiably him. 18 months of from his last studio album Rearview Town, Aldean is back with his ninth studio album which is simply titled 9.
Previously I’ve criticised Aldean for taking an ‘if ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to his music. He’s clearly found a formula that works for him and that obviously appeals to a large number of people. 9’s lead single We Back suggested that this new record was going to be business as usual for the star. A bland, forgettable and terribly titled song, We Back is absolutely nothing new and it’s the kind of song Aldean has recorded by the dozen. It has the feeling of an anthem but lyrically it’s completely empty.
Prior to the album’s release 8 of the 16 tracks have been made available. Of those the strongest are the shimmering rock ballad Blame It On You and the Morgan Wallen co-written Keeping It Small Town, which is comparable with Wallen’s previous co-write for Aldean You Make It Easy. Those songs are something a little bit different for Aldean and that’s what I want to hear from him at this point in his career; music that pushes him out of his comfort zone and delivers something fresher for fans.
Unfortunately most of the album’s tracks revert back to the same formula, which to me makes it largely forgettable. Don’t get me wrong songs like Some Things You Don’t Forget and Dirt We Were Raised On are enjoyable enough but you’ll struggle to remember much about them once they’ve finished playing. Interesting there are more ballad-leaning songs on 9 than previous Aldean albums and those, for me, are the stronger moments. Aside from the two songs I’ve mentioned Got What I Got is another highlight. There’s something about Aldean keeping it simple that makes him more appealing.
At a lengthy 16 tracks, the album suffers from having too much filler, particularly in the back half of the album. The Same Way, Talk About Georgia and the closer She Likes It blend into one another, lacking much to distinguish them. Had Aldean cut the album down to a lean 10 or 11 tracks, it would have been a much stronger proposition.
If you’re a fan of Aldean you’ll love 9 as it’s very similar to everything else he’s released. If, like me, you’re eager for Aldean to evolve his sound and step out of his comfort zone, you won’t find more than a couple of tracks to satisfy your hunger. There’s no denying that Aldean is a talented artist and he works with the best writers in the business but I feel he’s too reliant on his tried and tested formula. That makes him lack the impact and excitement that other artists in the genre are having because they’re pushing boundaries. 9 is a perfectly serviceable album but it’s not particularly memorable.
Track list: 1. Tattoos and Tequila 2. Blame It On You 3. Champagne Town 4. Some Things You Don’t Forget 5. Got What I Got 6. Keeping It Small Town 7. Camouflage Hat 8. Came Here to Drink 9. We Back 10. Dirt We Were Raised On 11. I Don’t Drink Anymore 12. Cowboy Killer 13. One for the Road 14. Talk About Georgia 15. The Same Way 16. She Likes It Record label: Broken Bow Records Release date: 22nd November 2019 Buy 9