Jason Aldean and Ariana Grande were both performing onstage when terrorists attacked fans attending their concerts last year. Grande’s first post-attack song, “No Tears Left to Cry,” clearly references what she experienced.
Aldean’s doesn’t. Instead, the 15 songs on the this country stalwart’s eighth album revisit the themes he’s built his career on: beer and breakups, sex and second thoughts, romance and rejection.
And more beer.
“You Make It Easy” finds a man gushing about the woman he loves, saying, “And I swear God made you for me.” He also says of her, “With every little thing you do/You’re my sunshine in the darkest days/My better half, my saving grace.” No wonder he says, “Yeah, I’m down for life, you got me wrapped around your finger.”
“Drowns the Whiskey” challenges the cliché of drenching painful memories with alcohol, suggesting instead that those remembrances are always stronger than liquor: “And the thing that really gets me/Is how your memory drowns the whiskey.”
“Love Me or Don’t” confronts a fickle woman’s romantic indecision, telling her, “I’m tired of playing these games.” “Better at Being Who I Am” wisely recognizes that physical intimacy alone isn’t enough to overcome other significant problems in a relationship: “For a while there, it seemed like the sex would make it alright, but it didn’t.” The song also explores a man’s growing realization that changing who he is to please someone doesn’t create a firm foundation for a healthy relationship.
On “I’ll Wait for You,” a man whose partner has left him promises to do exactly that.
The first three tracks blend drink and casual womanizing. “Dirt to Dust” relies on “a shot of Patrón/To kick this good time off,” while telling a woman at a bar “when you dance like that/ … Don’t wanna go another minute without it.” Alcohol and intimacy mingle again on “Set It Off”: “It’s a d–n good night, firefly light, bourbon on ice/ … The curves on you got my body on cruise/You’re 90-proof smooth/ … One little kiss is all it takes, all it takes to get me lit.” And on “Girl Like You,” Aldean tells his partner, “Your kiss is a double-barrel bourbon on rocks,” and he looks forward to “slow motion all night long.”
Despite some sweet moments, “You Make It Easy” also talks about being “twisted up all day long” with a lover on a rainy day. And though a guy wants to be done with an indecisive woman on “Love Me or Don’t,” she’s still making booty calls (“Yeah, you say that it’s over/And then you tell me to come over/It’s like fire”) and disrobing at his place (“I could keep your little red dress that you left on the floor, girl”).
Another couple has trouble calling it quits on “Up in Smoke,” because their incendiary physical relationship keeps them coming back for more (aided by a bit of whiskey, of course). Double entenrdes in “Ride All Night” suggest that the song isn’t just about driving around ‘til morning. “I’ll Wait for You” implies that a couple was living together before she left him. And on “Blacktop Gone,” a drifter tells an interested woman, “If you looking for Mr. Stick Around/That’s ain’t me.”
We hear nods to whiskey, tequila, beer, drunkenness and picking up atttractive women in bars in 11 of the 15 songs here. Cigarette references show up in a couple of tracks as well. Title track “Rearview Town” describes a man who exits a small town with a crude hand gesture (“I stuck my middle finger up in the sky/Flipped off that ‘Y’all Come Back’ sign”). Three songs include a few uses of “d–n” or “h—.” One track repeates the phrase “oh lord” three times.
There’s no life experience that can’t be marinated in alcohol, if you take Jason Aldean’s songs at face value. If you’re happy, drink. If you’re sad, drink. If you’re kissing a beautiful woman, compare her lips to bourbon. If you want to pay her a compliment, why, a reference to booze is sure to do the trick.
Aldean even has one song, “High Noon Neon,” that compares a broken relationship to an empty bar at noon: “Nothing says gone like an empty glass sitting or sitting on the bar/In the middle of the day in a blue-light haze.” But then again, noon’s as good an hour for another drink as any other, he says: “Nothing says gone like 12 o’clock on the rocks.”
A handful of nice moments on Rearview Town nonetheless get drowned out by the river of booze that Aldean once again canoes down here, a river that often meanders into other damaging decisions as well.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.