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Aaron Lewis

The Road – 2012 (Blaster)

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

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CDs by Aaron Lewis

Who would have ever thought that, in looking for one of the next more promising acts in country, we'd be turning to none other than seasoned rock and roller, Aaron Lewis, of Staind fame? Add to that the fact that Lewis hails from Massachusetts, a far throw from the Mason-Dixon Line, and you're faced with quite a head-scratcher. Yet, on his 2010 EP "Town Line" the artist showed that he had the right stuff and his first full-length country release, "The Road," delivers solidly on that promise.

Lewis penned all the tracks on the record save for the poignant tale of Granddaddy's Gun and the result is a musical package that feels honest and lived in. He tells tales of the weariness of road life with old country sounds on 75 and the Waylon-flavored State Lines and carries that same theme, tempered with some relationship issues and a slightly more contemporary soundscape on Forever. The title track is a toe tapping classic truck driver tale, buoyed by some nice Dobro fills while Endless Summer provides welcome musical and lyrical breeziness.

In true country fashion, Lewis offers up the patriotic tones of Red, White, and Blue, fueled steel guitar as Lessons Learned keeps a slow pace and is a surprisingly thoughtful and encouraging jam. That gives way to a bit of angst on Anywhere But Here, a despondent lyric carried by a simple, unforced arrangement as Party In Hell brings things to a close with a nod to outlaw musicians everywhere.

"The Road" does not come off like a debut. Rather than tainted with an almost overeager need to please, it's warm and comfortable, quietly confident in what it is. And that makes all the difference in helping Lewis to make the transition.