Since his self-titled debut album release in 2005, Jason Aldean has established himself as not only the leading male artist in Country music but also one of the top-selling artists in any genre. Over the past 11 years he’s sold more than 14 million albums and released 6 studio albums. Last week Aldean released They Don’t Know, his seventh studio album and the follow-up to the platinum selling 2014 album Old Boots, New Dirt.
Prior to the album’s release, lead single Lights Come On has already become a number 1 hit topping the US Country Airplay chart. The song, which was co-written by Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, doesn’t break new ground for Aldean but it’s a solid country/rock hybrid in the vein of some of the star’s earlier hits. It has mass appeal, which explains why it’s done so well at radio and on the charts.
For They Don’t Know Aldean has worked once again with his long-time producer Michael Knox and for the most part the album is business as usual. Aldean isn’t particularly known for switching things up so if you’ve heard any of his previous records, you’ll know exactly what to expect from this one. Aldean has his eye on radio hits and there are plenty of them here. Current single A Little More Summertime shows a slightly softer side of the singer but its still unmistakeably a Jason Aldean track.
Elsewhere on the record One We Won’t Forget is the kind of hands-in-the-air arena rousing track that Aldean has built a career on, The Way A Night Should Feel incorporates a sing-a-long chorus that is sure to make it a live favourite, and album closer When The Lights Go Out brings the album full circle from opening track Lights Come On.
Perhaps what is surprising about They Don’t Know is that it sits more in the mid-tempo area than anywhere else. Aldean has previously commented that he felt his past two records have lacked uptempo cuts but honestly there aren’t that many of them here either over the course of the 15 tracks. One of the best moments comes on First Time Again, which features chart-topping singer Kelsea Ballerini. They aren’t necessarily two singers I’d put together but actually they work well on the track.
They Don’t Know showcases an artist that knows how to sell records and there’s definitely a feeling of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ about the release. That’s not to say it’s a bad listen because it isn’t, but you’re unlikely to be converted to a fan of the singer if you’ve never like him before and if you’ve been a long time fan you’re not likely to be surprised by anything featured here. While he continues to sell out stadiums and arenas, I don’t expect Aldean will push himself musically but I’d like to see him take some risks and do something a bit different on his next album by taking himself out of his comfort zone.
Track Listing: 1. Lights Come On 2. A Little More Summertime 3. This Plane Don’t Go There 4. Comin’ In Hot 5. First Time Again (with Kelsea Ballerini) 6. Bad 7. They Don’t Know 8. One We Won’t Forget 9. Whiskey’d Up 10. In Case You Don’t Remember 11. All Out of Beer 12. Any Ol’ Barstool 13. The Way a Night Should Feel 14. Reason to Love L.A. 15. When the Lights Go Out Record Company: Sony Music Release Date: 9th September 2016