If you take the hard rock power chords away from singer/songwriter Aaron Lewis and replace these strums with steel guitar lines, you don't end up with anything all that different. Producer James Stroud has done a good job bringing Lewis' songs to life on this 7-song EP (with the title track featured a whole three different times, in slightly different variations), but he has not transformed the man into a Darius Rucker-like country singer - yet.
Whether Lewis is complaining about the hard toll life takes on us all with Vicious Circles or attempting to establish country music credibility with the title track, Lewis always sounds like that constantly-suffering artist he's always been with his rock band, Staind. Country Boy is especially annoying, as it relies upon patriotic and NRA-inspired clichés to state its overused case. The love song, Tangled Up In You, which also features Alexa Carter's female vocals and was on Staind's "The Illusion of Progress CD," somewhat lightens the mood. However, this addition is not nearly enough muscle to lift off the heavy burden created by this recording. Some stains just never come out, no matter how much Southern elbow grease is applied.