Makin’ Stuff Up: The Dividing Line
Sporting the same look that Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney borrowed from Dwight Yoakam, Aldean’s repertoire travels the same dirt roads, through the same hick towns, with the same country girls that every other young, country buck wails about. And his records are motored by the same, slick, meticulously layered, corporate-rock production. No, Aldean and Knox didn’t invent anything new. They merely took what was already happening in the genre and refined it into a product so undeniably first-rate that country radio and its listeners simply cannot resist. Jason Aldean is a fantastic popcorn movie, a Jerry Bruckheimer summer blockbuster.
This packaging process invariably starts with the search for tightly-crafted, hook-laden compositions, perfectly suited for Aldean’s rangy, radio-friendly vocal instrument – while making darn sure that every lyric reinforces that “sex god of the fly-over states” persona. By his own estimation, Knox wades through 5,000 titles per project – to cull together a comp of 30 or so for the artist’s final consideration.
So, Knox adheres to the Garth Brooks school, while Aldean cooperates by not going all Clint Black. “Jason doesn’t let his own writing define himself as an artist,” Knox explains. Wow! An amazing statement. “He just wants the best songs available.”
At the end of the day, it’s the conviction Aldean puts into every performance – in the studio or on stage – that makes it impossible to detect a dollop of insincerity in what is actually a very calculated recipe for success. Having recently sold out Madison Square Garden and Wrigley Field – venues far, far away from the fly-over states – Aldean is living that crazy vision Garth had more than two decades ago.
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