When Jason Aldean is
listening to music for an album - such as his eighth studio LP,
Rearview Town, which came out April 13 - one thing he tries to
envision is how each song will fare when he performs it live.
"Drowns The Whiskey" featuring Miranda Lambert is already at #9 on Billboard's Country Music charts closely followed by "You Make It Easy" at #11.
"Every song I cut, I think about that," the country superstar said at a recent press event to promote the album. "My live shows are such an important selling tool for the record for me - I'm constantly listening for things that are going to translate live. Sometimes, I get lost in thinking, 'Man, that song sounds really cool. It would be fun to play live.' I've listened to the vibe of the song that I have forgotten to listen to the record, and the lyrics aren't really that good, but the song would be fun to play ... I'm constantly thinking about how those songs are going to fit in with 'She's Country,' 'Dirt Road [Anthem],' and all the other songs that we already play."
Finding such songs has gotten a little bit easier for the Georgia native since he released his self-titled debut disc in 2005. To quote an old song, time is now on Aldean's side.
"When you're a new artist in town, obviously the publishers and the songwriters want the A-list artists cutting their stuff - and rightfully so. It's a little bit harder to get those really good songs. But, at this point in my career, it's a lot easier to get them, and we have guys who specifically write for us. I'd say you listen to hundreds of songs to narrow it down to fifteen."
And thirteen years into his career,
Aldean is confident in his ability to quickly judge whether a song
"Half of them, you don't get past the first verse. If I know it's not in the ballpark, I'm not going to waste their time or mine. I'll stop and go 'Next?' That's where Michael comes into play," he says, referring to longtime producer Michael Knox, "because he and I have worked together for so long, and he knows my style, and what I like. He can sort of be a buffer. It's a process. But, it's a lot of songs."
In addition to the smooth tones of "You Make It Easy," the set's lead single, one track that will be of definite interest to fans is "Drowns The Whiskey," which pairs him with fellow hitmaker Miranda Lambert. The two have worked together before, and Aldean thought the time was right for another opportunity.
"We kind of got started in this business together," Aldean says of his longtime friendship with Lambert. "We toured a lot together early on, and we did a song on my second record, 'Grown Woman,' that was probably my favorite song on that album [Relentless]. I'm always looking for ways to collaborate with other people, and I have always wanted to do something else with her. I've always been a big fan of her voice and style. I had this song in mind, and I sent it to her, and she was kind of iffy on the song that I sent. I said 'If you don't like it, that's cool. I want you to love whatever we do. We'll find something else. I've got this other song that I'll send you, see if you like it better.' I sent it to her, she loved it, and I said 'Cool, let's cut it.' It was one of the highlights of this record."
One name that is absent from the
liner notes of Rearview Town - at least from the writers'
credits - is his own. And, Aldean, insists that's perfectly fine
with him. "I moved to town as a songwriter, I'm way capable of
writing songs - and did. I actually wrote quite a few for this
record, and some were really cool. But, I'm the guy who gets in
there and listens to the other songs, and I just like them better.
Michael is always telling me, 'The stuff you're writing is really cool. You should cut it.' But, I'm always the one who's thinking, 'I don't know. I better cut this Neil Thrasher song, or this David Lee Murphy song. I'm my own worst critic, and I always have been. I really made an effort on this record to go out and write some stuff, and there's some cool stuff that might end up on another record, or on somebody else's. But, to me, I go with gut instinct, and I think if I feel this song is better than one I wrote, then I'm going to cut the other song."