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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Aaron Lewis - The Road

Aaron Lewis - The Road
2012, Blaster Records

Aaron Lewis has made a lot of hay as the front man of Staind. The band's nine albums put them at the forefront of the hard rock/metal seen for a decade or more. Lewis has found a new direction the past few years however, falling for the melancholy and pick-a-ninny of traditional country music. Lewis' full length country debut album, The Road, drops this week, with a sound both radio ready and legitimate.

The melancholy pull of home while on the road is the theme of "75", in which Lewis laments a life where his bedroom travels as much as he does. The musicianship here is first class, and Lewis' voice is as classic country as they come. "The Road" is a road song with outlaw country pastiche. Lewis channels a mix of Paycheck and Cash in a highly catchy tune that will stick with you. "Endless Summer" is about making the most of time together with family. The scene is a summer camp with those you love best. It's hard not to identify with this tune at least a little bit, and Lewis manages to convey the sentiment without becoming enslaved by it.

In "Red, White & Blue", Lewis explores the enduring power of the American flag as a symbol of all of the sacrifice that has made America what she is. There is a melancholy feel here under the surface, but it supports a singular pride and hope for the future. "Lessons Learned" reflects on Lewis' own human frailties and how mistakes have led to wisdom and appreciation over times. The song is a call for self-examination and for talking stock in what matters. It's well written, cogent and wonderfully melodic. "Forever" laments the potential loss of love, and explores the chances of carrying on from the road. The sentiment here is authentic, and Lewis sings it as a confessional piece of country pop.

"Grandaddy's Gun" is a song of generational memory and affection, centered around the shared memories of a shotgun. This song won't resonate well with the ACLU or your local left leaning lawmaker, but it will hit home for anyone who grew up in a family where hunting was a way of life. The arrangement is masterful, and Lewis manages to humanize a subject too often demonized in the public sphere. "State Lines" looks back on a career full of successes in the terms of miles traveled. The seeming ambivalence about doing it all again that arose in "75" partially resurfaces here, but in more pragmatic lyrical and musical tones.

"Anywhere But Here" is a song of ultimate regret, sung from the perspective of a man trapped by his own decisions. This plays to the stereotypical hard luck life style song endemic to popular country, but is well written and had a certain commercial flair. Lewis closes out with a fitting paean to the bad boys of country music. "Party In Hell" finds Lewis claiming his place beside Waylon Jennings, Chris Whitley and Jamey Johnson, among others. The low key honky-tonk style is a nice touch.
Aaron Lewis makes the transition from rock to country with surprising grace.  Lewis and his band provide top-notch musicianship throughout The Road, but Lewis augments this with mature and nuanced country songwriting that runs the depths from Johnny and Waylon-style outlaw country to mature singer-songwriter pastiche.  This may be one of the finest country efforts of 2012.
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more at, where you can order a personally signed copy of The Road as a part of various packages.

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