It's hard not to ascribe some meaning to the title of Old Boots, New Dirt, Jason Aldean's sixth album. Edging into his second decade as a star, Aldean's boots are getting a bit worn; he's no longer an upstart, he's a veteran who could almost be seen as an institution thanks to his long commercial track record. Stars have less reason to take risks -- why upset the apple cart if it's still generating revenue -- but there's some freshness on Old Boots, New Dirt, which means the second half of the title isn't just talk.
''We can go 'round club hoppin','' country star Jason Aldean promises on his sixth record. Aldean, a sturdy if workmanlike singer who dropped some rap verses on his 2010 hit ''Dirt Road Anthem,'' goes further into pop territory here. On the lead single, ''Burnin' It Down,'' written by Florida Georgia Line, skittering beats course under a tune about getting busy ''to some old Alabama,'' and on ''Sweet Little Somethin','' banjos and EDM synths get equal play.
At the Experience Music Project conference last year, the critic Joshua Clover talked about writers of pop—saying that they wrote more about work that was interesting than good. Regardless of whether good can ever really be qualified, Jason Aldean’s new album might not be very good, but it is fascinating. It might be fascinating for all the wrong biographical reasons, and how it is slightly at the wrong place in a culture that is in the middle of turning away from his aesthetic, but it very much worth writing about.
It takes nine songs for Jason Aldean, on his new album, to get to the one about trucks. In the current climate, this is an act of extreme restraint. Country music is teeming with man-children these days — they want to ride in their pickups, blast outlaw country and hip-hop, maybe smoke a little something that, depending on which state you’re in, may or may not be legal.
Jason Aldean's Old Boots, New Dirt, the singer's sixth studio album (out Tuesday on Broken Bow Records) is a mixture of the party songs he has become known for -- but also shows a little bit more of an emotional and sensual side than listeners might be accustomed to. As much havoc as he will cause in concert with the uptempo-flavored tracks, on this disc the ballads take center stage. Read on for Billboard's track-by-track review of Old Boots, New Dirt.
“Moonlit truck bed/Two kids, enough said,” sings Jason Aldean in “If My Truck Could Talk,” and those last two words aren’t just a nostalgic insinuation — they’re a dodge, letting him avoid saying more than the bare minimum before moving on. “Old Boots, New Dirt” is likewise all ambition and no boldness, a solidly constructed modern country album without much in the way of inspiration. The upbeat anthems rock joylessly, and while some toy with rare-for-the-genre sounds like electronic percussion and throbbing synths, it sounds clumsy and calculated.