Fifteen songs on one record? It’s a bold move — more potential hits, but more potential misses, too. Hard-rockin’ Georgia native Jason Aldean, who prides himself on not fitting in a square country box, did it on his 2010 crossover monster, My Kinda Party, and scored three No. 1s, including the rap-laden ”Dirt Road Anthem” and the Kelly Clarkson duet ”Don’t You Wanna Stay.” On Night Train, his fifth album, he aims high and wide again with tracks ranging from ”1994,” a hip-hoppy tribute to ’90s country artist Joe Diffie that asks you to chant ”Joe! Joe! Joe Diffieee!” (laugh, but then, ugh, you will), to ”Black Tears,” the ballad of a sad stripper who dulls her pain with cheap sex and cocaine.
As performed by James Brown and band in the early ‘60s, “Night Train” was a horn-heated instrumental boogie chugging its way toward a funky, new kind of groove. The title track of fellow Georgia native Jason Aldean’s fifth album is, of course, an entirely different “Night Train,” and one that’s powered by the engine of nostalgia. During that song, and more than half the others in this batch of 15, Aldean makes an idealistic case for what’s great about growing up in a rural town (a theme that’s surfacing quite a lot in contemporary country right now): that people work hard, play hard and don’t get distracted by the citified luxuries they’re missing; that young love scenes often play out with a couple of kids jumping into a truck, cranking up the radio and either driving nowhere in particular or making a beeline for some secluded, starlit spot.
Jason Aldean makes albums the old-fashioned way -- the way they did back in 1994, just after the great Garth explosion. Aldean romanticizes "1994," in fact, sending up a jumping salute to the nearly forgotten neo-traditionalist Joe Diffie -- whose name bafflingly provides the chorus chant on "1994" -- and more importantly crafting his fifth album, Night Train, like they did in the '90s: it's bigger and bolder, impressed with its own ballast and weight. Aldean rocks the country, not with rhythm but with volume, ensuring that his pulsating party anthems and power ballads are delivered with a dogged force, with any subtleties or ambiguities flattened by his sheer sinewy determination.
JASON ALDEAN “Night Train” (Broken Bow). The country singer Jason Aldean represents the rural middle of the United States as if he’s rarely been anywhere else. The songs on his fifth album, “Night Train,” maintain a consistent attitude about that generalized regional identity — not ….
Jason Aldean’s “Night Train” keeps the Georgia singer on the track he rode up the charts with “My Kinda Party”; there’s lots of good-time rock ’n’ roll, some clumsy rapping that name-checks a country star of yore (Joe Diffie this time), and a steady hankering for fooling around in a pick-up truck. The traditional tones and textures of country music are largely lost in the array of guitar solos that sound like Bon Jovi audition tapes. Aldean takes country tropes — small-town kinship, rugged individualism — and often delivers them as stereotype, not story.