Jason Aldean's debut for Broken Bow is, for the most part, full-throttled, unmuffled country music for the NASCAR generation: part Haggard, part Guns 'N Roses, part Mellancamp.
The 28-year-old Georgia native opens with the CMT favorite "Hicktown," a celebration of rowdy fun on small town Friday nights. "Amarillo Sky," another ode to rural life and red-state values, follows. "Why" and "Even If I Wanted To" are among several heartfelt '80s-style power ballads. The life-on-the road lament "Asphalt Cowboy" may require a little more weariness than Aldean can muster, but he's right back into his blue-collar cowboy groove with "I'm Just A Man." The showstopper, though, is the haunting Americana-tinged "I Believe In Ghosts." With its minor chords, soulful background vocals and sincere reading, "Ghosts" is the set's best example that Aldean is capable of giving genre-transcending interpretations to strong material.
Michael Knox's production is all about power chords, deep bass and whining fiddles, but executed cleanly and competently. So climb into your monster pickup, slip on your Jeff Gordon shades and slap some Jason Aldean in the player. But listen carefully at the stoplights, and catch those moments when Aldean gives you just a little more.