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The Listening Room: Jason Aldean, Jackson Browne, Hozier, Stevie Nicks, Weezer and more...
"Old Boots, New Dirt"
"I knew the minute I picked you up it was gonna be a wild ride," Jason Aldean sings at the start of his sixth studio album, and "Old Boots, New Dirt" certainly has its roller coaster moments -- though emotionally more than musically. The set's 15 songs rides celebratory highs ("Show You Off," "Tonight Looks Good On You"), self-recriminatory lows ("Tryin' To Love Me," "Miss That Girl") and even the explicit (for country music, at least) sexual simmer of the eyebrow-raising first single "Burnin' It Down." And it's to Aldean's credit as a singer that he manages to inhabit these songs so convincingly even though he didn't write them. Working with longtime producer Michael Knox, Aldean also hops between a variety of styles on "Old Boots...," too, whether it's the crunchy rock stomp of "Laid Back" and "I Took It With Me," the soulful veneer of "Too Fast" or the contemporary dance floor flavor of "Sweet Little Something'," whose urgent, pulsing beat is accented by a banjo that dances through the mix. But there's an ebb and flow formula here as well, carefully restrained verses that swell into dramatic choruses on so many of the tracks that becomes a little too familiar, especially given the album's length. That ultimately renders "Old Boots' " individual parts more impactful than its sum of those parts, an accomplished solid but somewhat less propulsive ride than Aldean intended.
New & Noteworthy:
Jackson Browne, "Standing in the Breach" (Inside): The veteran singer-songwriter is characteristically defiant and on his first new album in six years.
Keyshia Cole, "Point of No Return" (Imani/Interscope): The hip-hop soul singer and reality TV star gets help from 2 Chainz, Future, Juicy J and others on her sixth studio album.
Hozier, "Hozier" (Columbia): The fiercely soulful Irish singer and songwriter's charged first album, following two buzz-making EPs, is certainly in the running as one of the year's most exciting debuts.
Stevie Nicks, "24 Karat Gold -- Songs From the Vault" (Warner Bros.): The rock diva finally gets around to recording a selection of songs that she started between 1969-95, with help from Eurythmics' Dave Stewart and longtime guitarist Waddy Wachtel.
Sixx: A.M., "Modern Vintage" (Eleven Seven Music): The third studio outing by the hard rock trio formed by Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx.
Weezer, "Everything Will Be Alright in the End" (Republic): The rock quartet's ninth album, and first in four years, is its third produced by Cars co-founder Ric Ocasek.
Also Out: Atkins May Project, "Empire of Destruction" (Gonzo Multimedia); Broods, "Evergreen" (Island); Jessica Campbell, "III" (self-released); Cheerleader, "On Your Side" (Bright Antenna EP); Dead Milkmen, "Pretty Music For Pretty Special People" (Quid Ergo); Minnie Driver, "Ask Me To Dance" (Rounder); Fatdog, "New Found Land" (Riverboat); Finch, "Back To Oblivion" (Bullett Media); Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, "Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn" (Rounder); Flying Lotus, "You're Dead!" (Warp); Macy Gray, "The Way" (Kobalt); The Hot Sardines, "The Hot Sardines" (Universal Music Classics); Hurstsmile, "Retrogrenade" (Slipkid); The Juan Maclean, In a Dream" (Secretly Canadian); Kasabian, "48:13" (Harvest); Laleh, "Boom" (Island EP); Storm Large, "Le Bonheur" (Heinz); Los Straitjackets, "Deke Dickerson Sings the Great Instrumental Hits" (Yep Roc); Making Movies, "A La Deriva" (United Interests); Minus The Bear, "Lost Loves" (Dangerbird); New Found Glory, "Resurrection" (Hopeless); Orange Goblin, "Back From the Abyss" (Candlelight); The Piano Guys, "Wonder" (Portrait); Steve Reich, "Radio Rewrite" (Nonesuch); Rigor Mortis, "Slaves to the Grave" (Rigor Mortis); Scars On 45, "Safety In Numbers" (Nettwerk); Philip Selway, "Weatherhouse" (Bella Union); Shakey Graves, "And the War Came" (Dualtone); Sister Hazel, "20 Stages" (Rock Ridge); Tinashe, "Aquarius" (RCA); Peter White, "Smile" (Heads Up); Betty Who, "Take Me When You Go" (RCA); Zola Jesus, "Taiga" (mute);
From The Vaults: Shelby Lynne, "I Am Shelby Lynne (Deluxe Edition)" (Rounder)
Soundtracks: Various Artists, "The Best of Me" (Capitol Nashville)
New Holiday Albums:Jim Brickman, "On a Winter's Night: The Songs and Spirit of Christmas" (Green HIll); Peter Furler and David Ian, "Peter Furler Christmas featuring David Ian" (Prescott); Il Divo, "The Classic Christmas Album" (Sony Music); Johnny Mathis, "The Classic Christmas Album" (Columbia/Legacy); Frank Sinatra, "The Classic Christmas Album" (Columbia/Legacy); Barbra Streisand, "The Classic Christmas Album (New Master (Columbia/Legacy)
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