Album Review – Jason Aldean’s “Macon”
I’ll be damned. Jason Aldean might’ve just released the best album in the last decade-plus of his career.
The problem for Jason Aldean though, is that he’s set such a low bar for himself, that’s still not saying much, at all. Jason Aldean is the Charlie Daniels of releasing one note, bellicose, blue collar odes full of mindless beer chugging and small town bluster. It’s the kind of music you blast in a lifted truck you’re two payments behind on when you’re trolling past your ex-girlfriend’s house after she just took out a restraining order on you.
The truth of the matter is when you actually take the time to listen to the studio albums of some of country music’s worst modern offenders such as Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, and so forth, you’re often surprised at the amount of album cuts that are actually decent. Jason Aldean though? Not so much. In the back half of his career, Jason Aldean has become the true embodiment of the great American meathead in country music form, and he machine guns out shallow tracks with uncanny consistency. His last studio record 9 might be the prefect example of this.
So expectations couldn’t have been lower. In fact, the only reason the commitment was made to even listen to this thing was in hopes it would be a conduit to vent all pent up frustrations from 2021 by mercilessly roasting what could only be a country music monstrosity. Preambles from Jason Aldean about how this album embodied a return to his roots were cast off as the sophistry these smokescreens almost always are. In fact, the more proclamations of authenticity from mainstream artists, the more likely the work is to be a letdown.
And Macon is a letdown if you’re an actual country music fan. But I would be lying if I didn’t confess that I was actually somewhat surprised by the content of this album named after Jason Aldean’s hometown. Again, this is not a “good” album by any stretch. But it’s good for Jason Aldean, and might symbolize a change in direction from him, which makes it an interesting specimen.
Commonly Jason Aldean’s songs never address the sad side of life, unless they’re lamenting the evaporation of rural America, which he does in some respects on this album in the song “Small Town Small”—his current single. But Macon is one sad heartbreak song after another. Songwriting wise, this is an old school country music tearjerker. Of course, turning these songs into arena rock anthems, and adding the artificial beats of hip-hop intros addles the effort, at least in the first half of this record.
But the second half of Macon you could easily compare to some of mainstream country’s more traditional artists such as Jon Pardi and Lainey Wilson. “Story For Another Glass” is pretty standard mainstream country song, for about 2006, which makes it a bit more welcome in 2021. Aldean’s cover of “Heaven” by Bryan Adams is surprisingly soulful, and sticks pretty much to the original.
“This Bar Don’t Work Anymore” is a good “bottle let me down” concept for a country song, and by golly, you may even hear some steel guitar coming through in the mix. “The Sad Songs” is an even better concept, and the steel guitar is even more prominent until it’s outright blazing near the end. Here Jason Aldean sings about how his “rowdy raise ’em up songs ’bout some honky tonkin'” (which this album surprisingly has none of) don’t present his whole story, and to know him, you have to hear his sad songs too. And again, sad songs is about all Macon is.
The album basically ends with “Watching You Love Me,” which may have more of an R&B heart to it, but again draws you in with the steel licks, the hooky chorus, and the quality writing, until all of a sudden you’re asking yourself “what if’s” about Jason Aldean’s career, and why he’s burying this kind of quality content in the back half of his tenth record as opposed to hanging his hat on it.
Macon ends with five live tracks from Aldean’s first few albums. I’m not sure it’s worthwhile to critique them, because as mild as Aldean’s studio work might be, his live stuff does it one worse. But when you hear him tear into his early hit “Amarillo Sky” from 2005, it does remind you of a time when Jason Aldean wasn’t terrible. It’s then followed by the song “Johnny Cash” that also became an early Aldean hit, and was originally recorded by Tracy Byrd.
Again, don’t worry that Saving Country Music has gone all soft. Jason Aldean’s Macon is not something worth writing home about. But it does represent somewhat of a sea change from what we’ve come to expect from Jason Aldean and artists like him. Perhaps with more country-sounding artists like Luke Combs setting the pace, someone like Jason Aldean has no other choice but to lean back into his roots, find better songs, and make them sound more country.
We’ll see what the 2nd half of this 2-release project has in store when Georgia drops in April 2022. But for now, Macon makes a surprising move towards better, and more country-sounding songs that we should encourage from an artist like Jason Aldean.
1 1/4 Guns Down (4/10)
November 24, 2021 @ 8:53 am
Jason Aldean being named Artist of the Decade was a travesty, but I will say I would listen to his bro-country rock stuff all day long before I’ll listen to the current boyfriend country. On his first few albums Aldean was fun. You could roll the windows down and turn up the volume to hear the loud guitars.
Current popular country aka boyfriend country is unlistenable.
November 24, 2021 @ 10:59 am
I agree. I’d say that coming out during the adult contemporary phase of mainstream country in the mid-2000s, Aldean’s heavier country rock sound was somewhat fresh. But sort of like Chris Cagle, his schtick got old fast and (as Trigger says) he’s rarely ever cut anything with much depth to it. His first single wasn’t “Amarillo Sky,” it was “Hicktown” in 2005. Which I recall being a fun little laundry list anthem before that kind of thing was embalmed by the mainstream. In fact, Aldean was the one who made me personally sick of these songs. His next single (and first number 1) was a ballad called “Why,” which I haven’t listened to since about 2007 but I recall being surprisingly decent (and leaned more into that sad side that he’s since abandoned). “Amarillo Sky” was third in 2006, which is obviously a great song. But like many of Aldean’s early hits, it’s a cover of a song that was originally cut by John Rich and then McBride & The Ride. But as Trigger says, the man has always struck me as country music’s meathead.
November 24, 2021 @ 12:19 pm
What is boyfriend country? I haven’t heard this term before…who specifically?
Country Charley Crockett's Butter
November 24, 2021 @ 12:40 pm
Dan + Shay ÷ TR × 2 (Russel Dickerson) – Parmalee + Shay × 2Dan = Boyfriend Country
November 24, 2021 @ 1:30 pm
I would even put many of Combs’ recent songs in that category. He loves to write songs about how amazing his girlfriend/wife is. “Love is perfect” just doesn’t fill my country music needs. I hate to say it but I prefer heartbreak songs.
November 25, 2021 @ 6:49 am
Agreed. Gotta balance it out with some “my wife is a cheating whore” songs. Thats how the classic country artists did it.
November 25, 2021 @ 12:56 pm
Yeah, I like the “bluesy” love songs, i.e. “my woman done up and left me and she ain’t comin’ back this time, and I’m walkin’ the floor.” 🙂
November 25, 2021 @ 6:04 pm
With so many good albums that exist, wasting time by giving Aldean a chance is fucking stupid.
Diane Cheryl Sprouse
November 26, 2021 @ 7:03 am
Aldean is a lot better than Pardi faking his country accent. Maybe you are the fricken stupid one. Let me guess you live up north and don’t know what you’re even talking about.
November 26, 2021 @ 12:22 pm
What are you talking about? Pardi is garbage, he sounds just like Florida Georgia line. Aldean is equal garbage to pathetic Pardi
Wilson Pick It
November 24, 2021 @ 9:10 am
Like Thomas Rhett’s latest, this is the equivalent of an 80’s hair band making a bad grunge album in 1991.
November 24, 2021 @ 9:21 am
Ouch on the Charlie Daniel’s hit
November 24, 2021 @ 10:50 am
I too was alarmed at the Charlie Daniels reference. But i think Trigs meaning is Charlie Daniels was GREAT at what he did. And in this case , Aldean is GREAT at what Jason Aldean does; making shallow and superficial redneck rock. Kinda like in Sammy Kershaws Queen of my Doublewide, he sings that Earl is ” the Charlie Daniels of the torque wrench” meaning that he was a superb mechanic. Haha. Now if only Aldean was great at making meaningful music…but..he aint. Though i see how if you have a few cold ones and are in the mood to mindlessly rock out, well you might find it ok. Kinda like a bad guilty pleasure thing.
November 24, 2021 @ 11:47 am
Yes, American Aquarium re-recording “Queen of My Doublewide Trailer” has re-entered the “Carlie Daniels of..” into common parlance, at least in my world.
November 24, 2021 @ 12:01 pm
I’m a mechanic I’ve always aspired to be “the Charlie Daniels of the torque wrench” and to this day I can’t help but hear Sammy Kershaw’s voice in my head as I open that drawer in my toolbox…
It’s a little less exciting now tho to think that Jason Aldean shares some part of that title even if his is a dubious honor.
Matt "Mayday" Saracen
November 24, 2021 @ 9:22 am
I’ll admit that Aldean is kind of a guilty pleasure for me. I know he isn’t good, I know I shouldn’t like him, but there’s usually enough album cuts that if I weed out the abysmal bullshit he records, leave in a couple of the meh tracks and the deeper album cuts, it can usually make a decent 5-6 out of 10 album (especially given that his past several albums have been 14-15 songs).
He’s never great but he has the talent to at least be good when he is willing to do more than just phone in whatever the latest trend is.
November 24, 2021 @ 9:24 am
I really wish this guy would get his shit together. He’s not a great live performer, and most of his work from the past decade has been outright terrible, but once in awhile you catch a glimpse of some worthwhile talent. There are a few gems amongst the sea of crap. He has the potential to be much better than he is currently. I bet there’s a lot of good songwriters out there who would love to make some bank by writing lyrics for him. With his popularity, he could be one of the leaders in bringing traditional country back to the mainstream if he wanted to.
North Woods Country
November 24, 2021 @ 9:24 am
All Jason Aldean has to do to regain many fans is return to the sound of his first 3 albums. They were all very, very good modern country albums.
November 24, 2021 @ 9:29 am
I think the 2nd half of this album does that very thing, and the first half isn’t nearly as bad as his most recent albums. I keep qualifying everything by saying “it’s still not very good” because I don’t want to give people false expectations. But when it comes to Jason Aldean’s music specifically, this album really is a sea change, and one that was remarkable enough to remark on.
November 24, 2021 @ 9:55 am
Haven’t listened, but 10/10 on the tough guy look, for the squinting.
November 24, 2021 @ 10:03 am
I call that the “oh no, did I just shart?” look
November 24, 2021 @ 10:20 am
Kid Rock just sucked up all the wannabe tough-guy attitude in the music entertainment world, so none left for Aldean. Nothing in the world quite as masculine as a 50 year old retard with a huge gold chain and fur coat screaming that the next generation are a bunch of pussies. Throw in some arm wrestling for good measure, and Kid Rock is the #1 badass!
…sorry got off track there. That video is just absolutely hilarious though.
November 24, 2021 @ 10:50 am
On a more important note, looks like Turnpike is getting back together! IG wiped clean and website says “Coming Soon”
November 24, 2021 @ 11:20 am
I know “Amarillo Sky” was a bigger hit for him,. but wasn’t “Hicktown,” his single at the time I saw him as an opening act for Gary Allan in ’05, Aldean’s first hit?
November 24, 2021 @ 11:53 am
“Hicktown” was the first single. “Why” was actually his first #1. I’ve always thought of “Amarillo Sky” as his first signature song, and I think Aldean and his fans think of it that way as well. That’s why he led off with it in the live tracks of this album. Clarified this in the review.
November 24, 2021 @ 11:27 am
I’d much rather hear this than pussy music like Jason Isbell
November 24, 2021 @ 11:40 am
King Honky Of Crackershire (Let’s go Brandon!)
November 24, 2021 @ 12:52 pm
I’d have to disagree with you, Kevin. Being an emotionally-insane vagina with a face, is what makes Isbell’s writing so good. He’s able to put into words, what men with normal T levels typically cannot.
Aldean just doesn’t have anything to offer, musically. Like, how do people like him get record deals? That’s not a rhetorical question; I really don’t know how they get them. Who looks and listens to guys like this, and thinks, “There’s a winner.”?
November 24, 2021 @ 10:19 pm
Saying aldean is better than isbell is disrespectful to yourself, this website, and country music, nay, good music, as a whole. Be a big boy and like isbell even though he’s a friggin lib.
Jeremy pinnell would be pissed, especially because you haven’t listened to his recent album, which rips pretty hard
King Honky Of Crackershire (Let’s go Brandon!)
November 24, 2021 @ 12:08 pm
Aldean would have to record an entire album of Porter Wagoner covers, before I would even begin to think about considering whether or not I should contemplate the possibility of him being a serious performer.
November 25, 2021 @ 8:37 am
Aldean probably thinks that Porter Wagoner is a car model.
Diane Cheryl Sprouse
November 26, 2021 @ 7:05 am
I doubt that
November 24, 2021 @ 12:42 pm
Trigger is the Charlie Daniels of predicting that mainstream country has no choice but to shift a bit more toward acoustic/traditional/non-edm music.
Did i do it right?
(Not) The Ghost Of OlaR...
November 24, 2021 @ 1:07 pm
Much Better Music:
Matt Ward – If I Was In Dallas Tonight – Album (10 Tracks) – Released (11/05)
2nd album, australian (alt-)country artist & the title track was on my playlist.
The most tracks were recorded in Texas & Texas is the background for the whole album…the title track was recorded by to-go producer Matt Fell.
My Highlights: the ’70’s sounding “Broken Baggage, Sleeping Pills & Booze”, “Too Drunk To Two Step”, the slow “American Road”, the title track & former single “Old Ground” (feat. Bonnie Montgomery).
New Traditional Acts (Texas):
Garrett Bradford – “50 In The Fast Lane” (Single)
Cameron Wrinkle – “Takin’ The Leaving Too Far” (Single)
my current not-australian track on repeat (& well…not so traditional…) it’s what i call a “power-country” track (uptempo, strong chorus/sing-a-long-chorus, for driving a little bit to fast on a good ol german autobahn or back home on a gravel road trying to become the next rallye champ)…JP Campbell with…olala…a song about “our” Trigger (?!) “Triggers Dreams”…it’s on YouTube…
Rick and Lynn Childers
November 24, 2021 @ 1:29 pm
Jason Aldean is great. He came from a very nice family. We have been knowing him since he first play at Nashville South in Macon, Ga. My husband and I are very good friends with his Dad Barry and step-mother Vivian. We have always been behind Jason. Jason we love you and your family. Keep up the great work.
November 27, 2021 @ 5:27 am
He wore black face for Halloween. Stated that he couldn’t distinguish the same female county singers he now does duet with. Once openly admitted he hadn’t read a book since college. He openly cheated on his wife and children. And as for his family being nice they sent him to a private school in Macon that was created for white people who didn’t want their children to go to desegregated schools. He doesn’t have a vocal range, he is horrible live, he doesn’t write any of his music ( although he did when he first started), and he brought rap to county- what a great contributor to country music. Nice doesn’t mean good.
September 28, 2022 @ 11:44 pm
He didn’t used to be horrible live. He gained a lot of weight and lost his voice from like 2015-2021. Check out videos before that. He lost a lot of weight this year though and sounds so much better. He put on a fantastic live show in June that I was at
November 24, 2021 @ 1:31 pm
Jason Aldean is a horrible live entertainer. Saw him once in concert. Never again. Can’t sing. Also can’t stand Jason and his wife as they should keep their political views to themselves. I never understood this guy’s appeal. Jason doesn’t even write any of his songs. Jason’s new album is not good.
November 25, 2021 @ 5:45 am
Cowards like you hate the face that he is out spoken. He doesn’t like your liberal perversion and you can’t stand it.
November 25, 2021 @ 7:39 pm
I prefer a different Jason. Jason Isbell. Now that Jason is a class act.
November 25, 2021 @ 8:36 pm
Isbell is an insufferable prick, but he’s one hell of a talent.
Do Not Blame Me
November 24, 2021 @ 4:21 pm
No Law enforcement entity has really ever ascribed a motive to the Los Vegas shooter. Is it beyond the realm of possibility that he was just simply a Jason Aldean hater?
November 24, 2021 @ 5:29 pm
Though we do not have a motive, most law enforcement believes he did not target the country festival or Jason Aldean specifically, but was simply looking to take as much life as possible. If he wanted to kill Jason Aldean, the perch he chose would have not the ideal place.
November 24, 2021 @ 5:49 pm
Those two songs were not that bad. Maybe music these days of any genre is pretty terrible so I’ve just lowered the bar. I get a sense of Oscar syndrome with Aldean where a lot of movie critics go rip into Marvel movies because they have Oscar goggles on. Instead they need to take into context what they are watching and realize it’s just big dumb fun. Aldean’s music is something like that. The guy isn’t trying to be the next big thing or some type of legend. So listening to him has to be taken into context somewhat as well. It’s not great music by any stretch but at the same time it could be much much worse.
September 28, 2022 @ 11:48 pm
Dude he was a top 2 star in country music for a decade and won acm artist of the decade. He was definitely a bigger deal than you are implying
November 24, 2021 @ 7:05 pm
“…(T)he kind of music you blast in a lifted truck you’re two payments behind on when when you’re trolling past your ex-girlfriend’s house after she just took out a restraining order on you” could be a whole sub-genre of country music.
One of the best lines I’ve read in a review for quite some time.
November 24, 2021 @ 9:56 pm
The McRib is back, might be the perfect compliment to this record!
November 25, 2021 @ 2:23 am
I’ve always had a soft spot for Aldean. I guess it goes back to when I was in middle school and my dad and I would get up on Saturdays and go hunting when Amarillo Sky had just came out. This one particular Saturday it came on the radio and we both sang the whole song. Then when Wide Open came out my brother got the cd and I would ride around with him with it blasting in his car. Another time that sticks out when I was in 11th grade my dad and I were headed to Kentucky to see my grandparents and do some hunting over Thanksgiving break and The Truth came on and my dad turned it up and I sang along in the dark. Then a little later in 11th grade sitting in English class and our teacher let us put the radio on. I’ll never forget when the whole class singing along with Big Green Tractor. There was a girl I fell for who had just moved to a small town in Western NC from a big city in Michigan who had never listened to any type of country music and the look on her face as we all sang was priceless. Even as bad as most of his music is ill still listen cause it always takes me back to a simpler time.
November 25, 2021 @ 4:41 am
I pretty much agree with the review, but I’ll put an * next to Aldean’s name because he did raise over 1M for the Children’s Hospital in Macon and donated $200K to Navicent Health for PPE and COVID-19 testing equipment.
November 25, 2021 @ 6:23 am
This might be the best sentence ever written on the Internet:
“It’s the kind of music you blast in a lifted truck you’re two payments behind on when when you’re trolling past your ex-girlfriend’s house after she just took out a restraining order on you.”
November 25, 2021 @ 6:43 pm
LOL……He’s a poet and we all know it. I’d love to see a list of Trigs greatest lines in reviews and articles. They’d be gold!!!
November 25, 2021 @ 7:11 am
Well I think he is amazing and love the album.
He has the most amazing voice and anyone who can’t see that shouldn’t be listening to country music.
Also if u don’t like it don’t listen but opinions are like ass holes every body’s got one but some of his loyal fans don’t care to hear it.
He’s by far my favorite artist and I once again say I think he did great with album and will remain his #1 fan….
November 27, 2021 @ 3:57 pm
Ooo… Trigger triggered a stan. LOL
Like who you like, but to claim that anyone who doesn’t like Aldean doesn’t like country music is ridiculous. So if I don’t like Jason Aldean but listen to George Jones, Vince Gill, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, I’m not a country fan? You can’t be serious.
And if you wanna talk opinions, in case you haven’t noticed from the theme of this website, most of the visitors here don’t care to hear the opinions of pop country stans who stan for artists who wear blackface and sound more like bad ’80s hair rock than country.
November 25, 2021 @ 7:42 am
Guys like Aldean and Bryan have become a parody of themselves. They have been regurgitating their same hits with different words for so long that there is no way back to respectability for them.
November 25, 2021 @ 1:57 pm
“… someone like Jason Aldean has no other choice but to lean back into his roots…”
Is jumping off a bridge not an option?
November 25, 2021 @ 2:49 pm
A review of Lauren Alania’s new album would be splendid.
November 25, 2021 @ 8:40 pm
Somewhere *Bryan Adams is swearing at his computer screen. 😉
January 26, 2022 @ 5:50 am
November 26, 2021 @ 8:47 am
This is his worst album. Theyve been going downhill since he started using songs florida georgia line wrote and these ten songs are so forgettable I dont even remember any of them two days after listening to it.
November 27, 2021 @ 3:47 am
“this bar doesnt work any more” sounds like a fast cars and freedom ripoff. I would blame aldean but all he does is pick songs off a list. rascal flatts doesnt wont know who to sue
the other song sounds like a bryran adams rip off, not suprisingly he covered “heaven” on the album
January 26, 2022 @ 5:47 am