Reviews

Jason Aldean “Highway Desperado” Album Review

Highway Desperado

Jason Aldean

  • Genre: Contemporary Country
  • Date: 03 Nov, 2023
  • Content: explicit
  • Track(s): 14
  • ℗ 2023 Macon Music, LLC under exclusive license to This Is Hit, Inc. d/b/a Broken Bow Records

Jason Aldean &Quot;Highway Desperado&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, February 25, 2024

Highway Desperado is the eleventh studio album by American country music singer Jason Aldean, released on November 3, 2023, via Broken Bow Records. It was preceded by the lead single “Try That in a Small Town”, which was released in May 2023 and has topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart as well as the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, becoming Aldean’s first chart-topper on the latter chart. Three other songs, “Tough Crowd”, “Let Your Boys Be Country”, and “Whiskey Drink”, were also released ahead of the album. Aldean co-wrote three of the album’s fourteen tracks, making it his first since 2009’s Wide Open to contain tracks he has written or co-written. The album didn’t also see collaborations; Aldean’s unique blend of traditional country and rock influences is showcased throughout, making it a standout addition to his discography.

Album Art

Jason Aldean &Quot;Highway Desperado&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, February 25, 2024

The photo of Jason on the album cover is slightly blurry and depicts him riding in what is probably a truck. His eyes suggest that he is trying to pull a reserve and is positioned with his hands on the wheel. He puts on his hat, puts on a black t-shirt, and wears jewels around his neck. An attractive sunset can be seen in the background of the album image, which gives the whole scenario a glow. In addition to evoking the spirit of exploration and independence that permeates Jason’s music, the entire look perfectly depicts his rough and rebellious demeanour.

Tracks And Features

Jason Aldean has consistently embodied the pinnacle of what contemporary mainstream country music in the twenty-first century has come to symbolize. Once upon a time, the genre included a good amount of diversity in both idea and sound, and it generated pleasant, clever, and engaging music from a range of skilled performers. The best dogs in the nation today are protective, reactive, and even a little aggressive, and they let the same old repetitive list of meaningless cultural signifiers define them independently. You’d never know from how these heads cling to these tropes: drinking beer, driving a truck, and expressing love for God and country shouldn’t be limited to country music or the people who listen to it.

This project will cause controversy, even though it is widely acclaimed. “Tough crowd” opens the experience, and from this, one can already get the hint that the many performers in the country’s talk-sing-rap industry numbly bray into the mainstream because they have an emotional affinity for a way of life that is exclusively their own. Strong opposition will be directed at anyone who questions it or tries to return to the previous Oasis. Everything that came before this has long served as a haven for those who oppose political incorrectness, certain ideologies, and just about everything else that can be made to appear disloyal.

This was true even before Jason Aldean released the song that caused the most controversy of the year. ‘Try That in a Small Town,’ a contentious yet viral song, is one of Highway Desperado’s. The song and accompanying music video offended a lot of people, who claimed it promoted violence and racism. It’s scary that despite the backlash, Jason Aldean’s song “Try That in a Small Town” resonated with a large audience, catapulting it to the top of the Billboard charts. Its controversial nature sparked conversations about the boundaries of artistic expression and the impact of music on society. “Try That in a Small Town” is the perfectly ugly culmination of everything witnessed happen to country music: the deliberate dumbing down of an audience that neither Aldean nor his contemporaries have any respect, like the Toby Keith-Dixie Chicks feud that led to women being ruthlessly displaced from the format; and the fake tough guys penning position papers disguised as patriotic anthems.

Before Aldean filmed a music video in front of a Tennessee courthouse where a black youth was hanged for a crime he may not have committed a century ago; not many significant musicians dared to identify with this segment of the public openly. Equipped with copious amounts of stock material shot outside of the US, Aldean firmly planted his flag in the camp, threatening to take revenge on anyone who dared to “cuss out a cop” or stage a violent protest. It’s not necessary to agree with the actions he’s criticizing to recognize the adverse and perhaps hazardous effects of a song like this. It would be an oversimplification to describe it as artless and stupid. It’s one of the most restrained political statements in modern popular culture, coming from someone who experienced both the deadliest mass shooting in American history and a city upbringing. Music. Additionally, he keeps caving into people who believe that the government will take their guns away. Talk promotes petty political posturing like this intolerably cliched defence of “music.”

The remaining forty-three and a half minutes that make Highway Desperado, the seventh album in nine years from the country’s most painfully prolific star, play like a standard Jason Aldean album. Aldean did contribute to writing on three tracks—the first time he’s done so in fourteen years. Still, as heard on “Hungover in a Hotel,” he makes a valuable contribution: ringing vocals, a formulaic production, and a half-baked hook that sounds like it was thrown together quickly. Despite the familiarity of the album, Aldean’s writing contributions bring a refreshing touch to his signature sound. “Hungover in a Hotel” showcases his strong vocals and still manages to capture the essence of his style. However, there is room for improvement in lyrical depth and creativity.

Aldean returns to the well-known themes that are meant to be intrinsic “country” in “Let Your Boys Be Country”: “red dirt, boots,” “trucks, backroad noise,” you name it. The most perplexing thing about this song is how Aldean encourages listeners—mothers in this case—to push their boys to “let everything inside these county lines be his whole world,” revealing the nation’s astounding dread of the globe outside of their own. This recurrent motif in Aldean’s songs begs why country music is reluctant to accept diversity and venture beyond its traditional boundaries. The notion that everything inside county borders should be considered a person’s complete universe is propagated, which may impede the development and understanding of different cultures.

In “Breakup Breakdown”, the town that Aldean brushed off in farewell on his 2018 song “Rearview Town” and acknowledged he needed to leave behind in his 2010 song “My Kinda Party” is still mentioned in this song. Though he also understands that the crowd is too enthralled to notice, Aldean occasionally realizes that the “small towns” he extols are dead ends. He reflects that these small towns can sometimes trap people in a cycle of limited opportunities and dreams that never come to fruition. Despite this realization, Aldean pays homage to the nostalgia and sense of community these towns represent in his music. “Breakup Breakdown” oscillates into arena rock tendencies half-borrowed from the vastly superior likes of Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban.

In another song, “From This Beer On,” which veers into arena rock tendencies, Aldean still can’t bring himself to act as though he genuinely means it when he swears for the millionth time he’s getting over her. The song’s lyrics lack the emotional depth to convince listeners of Aldean’s sincerity. Despite attempting to emulate the style of successful country artists, his performance falls short of capturing the raw authenticity needed to convey true healing and moving on.

He’s still attempting to block her memory of “Changing Bars” and “Whiskey Drink”. When last year’s “That’s What Tequila Does” approached this tired theme with a modicum of common sense, fans might have forgiven him. How much more singing is required when discussing being unable to erase a girl’s memory? With its cold arena rock undertones, overused production sheen that ought to have been dropped a decade ago, and singer Jason Aldean’s continuous sound, it will deliver value for your money—if that’s what you still vibe with.”Highway Desperado” is a high-flying, rebellious conclusion that puts the namesake album to a full stop. Exhilarating guitar riffs and pulsing drumming set the mood, while the defiant lyrics encapsulate the spirit of defiance and independence. This song demonstrates the band’s ability to provide a unique musical experience and leaves listeners with a lasting memory.

Tracklist

NO TITLE TIME
1 Tough Crowd 3:20
2 Let Your Boys Be Country 3:16
3 Knew You’d Come Around 3:14
4 Hungover In A Hotel 3:24
5 Try That In A Small Town 3:00
6 Whiskey Drink 3:10
7 Whose Rearview 3:16
8 I’m Over You 3:00
9 Rather Watch You 3:33
10 Breakup Breakdown 3:00
11 Get Away From You 3:20
12 Changing Bars 3:25
13 From This Beer On 3:07
14 Highway Desperado 4:24

Album Summary

Even if “Highway Desperado” has contentious topics and a nature that will make listeners think twice, it’s an album you might not make up your mind early on and want to put aside for a little longer. Aldean has released this style of album multiple times previously, but with its Hot 100-topping lead track tacked on, it becomes even more nostalgic. Had Aldean merely persisted in being among the nation’s most boisterous forebears, it could have been harmless enough to elicit little more than chuckles. He also doesn’t have a bad voice, and despite all the controversial takes, he is a great musician who needs to find the touch again. In the song “Wheels Rollin'” from 2012, he lets it loose, improving it. Aldean is a talented entertainer. However, his artistic character these days is plain unsettling.

While he may not be aggressive or angry, he has openly revealed himself to be emotionally and intellectually incompetent. Perhaps this would be sufficient to seize the position of prestige he has held for so long in a world that makes sense. Still, that is overly demanding. We shouldn’t be shocked that the same audience Aldean helped denigrate loved Toby more fervently since the nation selected him over the Chicks.

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