November 19, 2008
Jason Aldean’s latest release is a limited assessment, depicting a young woman who’s a product of the countrier-than-thou generation. No artist in recent memory has bludgeoned the audience with so many country-to-the-core songs. Ironically, the ’80s rock template that Aldean regularly employs is contradictory to the very messages that he sends in his hillbilly romps. He displays a musical attitude that betrays no hint of the history laid out by the likes of Jennings and Jones. (Imagine the Man in Black blasting out to “Johnny Cash.”)
The lead single from Jason Aldean’s third album, “She’s Country” is troubling in its content right from the titular phrase. Aldean’s valentine to a “crazy mother trucker” is a guitar-driven, cliche-laden number. She’s country “from her cowboy boots to her down home roots,” embracing her role as a slightly rebellious, yet wholly religious young woman. Her portrayal adds to the pigeonholing of women in the genre, declarations of dependence that describe members of the fairer sex as purely secondary characters. It’s a man’s, man’s, man’s world, solidified by such lyrics as:
Honey drippin’ honey from the holler in Kentucky
Getcha flippin’ kinda trippie like a Mississippi hippie
A hell raisin’ sugar when the sun goes down
Mama taught her how to rip up a town
“She’s Country” is jam-packed with justifications for this rebel child’s country-ness. It suggests that rural-route societies fear identity theft, with Aldean making a point of cramming hicks-from-the-sticks vocabulary into every corner of the rapid-fire rocker. “She’s Country” reverts back to the narrow stereotypes that more mainstream-minded Nashville insiders have tried to avoid, while also sticking to a musical pattern that recalls Cheap Trick instead of Charley Pride.
Aldean’s music clearly connects to the widening scope of country fans, and casual listeners will enjoy the tunefulness of his latest release. But self-expression has been sacrificed for self-explanation on a song that yields few desirable returns.
Buy: She’s Country