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Jason Aldean

Night Train – 2012 (Broken Bow)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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CDs by Jason Aldean

Jason Aldean is getting used to the view from the top. His last album "My Kinda Party" spawned 5 Top 10 singles and has charted for almost 2 years. Driven by rocking country coupled with rap and a power ballad, that album seemed to rise to the top of the charts organically. With his fifth release, "Night Train," he seems to be taking dead aim at the summit.

Aldean is at his best as a studly outlaw, but the majority of the material on "Night Train" is clichéd and watered down. Song themes are universally relatable and very basic, ranging from the virtues of hard work to the role of females in keeping men on track.

Noticeably lacking is the use of traditional country instrumentation, although there is some nice heavy guitar work on Take A Little Ride and impressive wah wah pedal on Staring at the Sun.

The infectious rap of Dirt Road Anthem is resurrected on 1994, which is equally catchy. Aldean was worried that the song might alienate his younger fan base because of its Joe Diffie references. He said, "There may be some younger fans that have to do some research and figure out who Joe Diffie is." The demographic in question will likely not have a problem recognizing the virtual clone of Bon Jovi's

Dead or Alive in the form of Wheels Rollin' here.

Aldean takes a much needed chance on the album's highlight, Black Tears, a stripper ballad where drugs and mama's disapproval are openly referenced.

While the album's simple themes attempt to keep it country, it is a far cry from the excellence of the more traditional sound of "My Kinda Party."