Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jason Aldean, "Dirt Road Anthem"

Most of Jason Aldean's recent rocked-up hit songs about country folks and country livin' have been in a fairly predictably vein, but his new offering contains one somewhat fresh component - country rap.  Such an addition might prove polarizing for many fans, but it's appreciable to hear an artist making some attempt to do something out of the ordinary.

There's a little caveat though.  Rapping only works if the words are interesting and creative, and if you deliver the rhymes with gusto and personality.  The only other recent example of country rapping in a mainstream radio hit is Sugarland's "Stuck Like Glue," in which a quirky, fun, and joyous performance made for a most charming little earworm.  In the case of "Dirt Road Anthem," the rap portion is a dull lackadaisical affair delivered with minimal enthusiasm.  Boring rhymes such as "I'm tired of talkin', man y'all ain't listenin'/ Them old dirt roads is what y'all missin'" make it an even bigger yawn, and the rapping ultimately ends up hurting the song instead of helping it.

Outside of the rap portion, "Dirt Road Anthem" sounds like generic Aldean.  It may have been originally recorded by writers Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert, but it slips comfortably into Jason's not terribly distinctive catalog with the usual references to pick-up trucks and ice cold beer.  He also continues to indulge his affinity for name-dropping country legends - This time it's George Jones - without paying a hint of tribute.  It's a bit odd that this "Dirt Road Anthem" lacks any of the qualities commonly associated with anthems, such as power, purpose, and enthusiasm.  The tune's meager artistic means are unlikely to slow its rise to the top of the charts, but "Dirt Road Anthem" is sure to sink country radio even deeper into the same quality rut that it's been in for years.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)