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Album Review

The last 20 years have seen the arrival of a new breed of country performer, artists who've set their sights on the kind of success that requires attracting both hard-core country fans and the rest of the music world, too. From Sugarland to Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift to Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts to Dixie Chicks, Keith Urban to Faith Hill, Toby Keith to Kenny Chesney and (a bit further back) Shania Twain to Garth Brooks, many of country's biggest acts have cultivated crossover careers by tearing pages out of the pop and rock playbooks.

In some ways, Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party slots into that template precisely, full as it is of fat, arena-ready guitar riffage. And Aldean's recent No. 2 bow on Billboard's inclusive album chart indicates that his three previous albums have connected with a wide audience.

In other—significant—ways, though, the Georgia-born singer's latest is vintage country. That is to say, a confounding mash-up of drinkin', smokin' and reckless drivin' paired with shout-outs to God, faithfulness and the quiet virtues of one-stoplight towns in flyover country.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

The song title "Tattoos on This Town" metaphorically encompasses all the memories a small town holds for someone who's grown up there. "Dirt Road Anthem" praises Southern ways, including "cornbread and biscuits," hospitality and a can-do spirit. Meanwhile, "Fly Over States" insists that anyone who's never driven across the country is missing out ("On the plains of Oklahoma/ … You'll think heaven's doors have opened/You'll understand why God made/Those flyover states").

On "Just Passing Through," a man is so deeply in love with a woman that he gushes, "It's your world and I'm just in it/ … Lucky me just being there when I get to hold you." The chorus of "I Ain't Ready to Quit" offers another blast of faithfulness-affirming romanticism ("You think you've seen love/You ain't seen nothing yet"). In the same spirit, "It Ain't Easy" praises a woman who stands by her man despite his rough edges.

"Country Boy's World," "Texas Was You" and "Days Like These" all cherish the inherent goodness of love, while "The Heartbreak That Don't Stop Hurting," "See You When I See You" and "If She Could See Me Know" lament relationships that haven't made the trip. The first song in that list rightly notes that alcohol won't make heartache go away, while the last involves a man praying for a second chance to prove his love.

Objectionable Content

For all those feel-good moments, though, Aldean often indulges his "good ol' boy" side too. "Dirt Road Anthem" brags about drinking and smoking while behind the wheel ("Yeah, I'm chillin' on a dirt road/ … Smoke rollin' out the window/An ice cold beer sittin' in the console/Memory lane up in the headlights"). He reminisces about wild parties from his youth ("We'll raise some h‑‑‑ where the blacktop ends) that included trespassing ("jump the barbed wire"), more smoking and drinking ("King in the can and the Marlboro man/Jack 'n' Jim were a few good men"), and make-out sessions, fistfights and swearing ("Where you learned how to kiss and cuss and fight, too")—not to mention keeping an eye out for the police ("Better watch out for the boys in blue").

Likewise, the title track toasts booze-drenched backwoods soirees where pretty girls are more sexually susceptible after being plied with moonshine ("Gotcha sippin' on some moonshine/Baby, if you're in the mood and/You can settle for a one-night rodeo/ … I'll be your redneck Romeo").

"Don't You Wanna Stay," a duet with Kelly Clarkson, has the American idol crooning, "I don't wanna move too fast/I don't wanna just make love/I wanna make love last," while Aldean adds, "Oh you feel so perfect, baby/ … Don't you wanna stay here for a little while?/ … Don't you wanna fall asleep with me tonight?"

The slightly askew "Church Pew or Bar Stool" rejects not only a small town's penchant for drunkenness but also its spiritual side. "When you're stuck in a place this slow," Aldean laments. "There's only two means of salvation around here that seem to work/Whiskey or the Bible, a shot glass or revival/ … Yeah, I need to get out of this church pew or bar stool kind of town." Meanwhile, "I Ain't Ready to Quit" defends addiction to nicotine and alcohol ("Something 'bout lighting up a Marlboro red/And that nicotine rushing to my head/And the taste of Southern Comfort on my lips/Tells me I ain't ready to quit"). Alcohol references turn up on other tracks as well, as do two mild profanities ("h‑‑‑," "a‑‑").

Summary Advisory

My Kinda Party's liner notes begin with Jason thanking God: "First of all, I want to Thank God for blessing me with the talent to be able to do this and have this life." He then praises his wife and two young daughters: "To my wife Jessica and our babies Keeley and Kendy!—None of this would be worth having if I didn't have you to share it with—I love you guys more than anything."

Those are country sentiments to the core, and I don't want to make you think I'm smirking as I copy them here. But after spending the better part of a day drowning in Mr. Aldean's songs, I can't help but wonder if the kind of parties he glorifies are really the kind he would want his daughters going to someday. Does he honestly see them following in his often reckless bootsteps?

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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