Jason Aldean

Rearview Town

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In many respects, Rearview Town is simply another sturdy Jason Aldean album -- "High Noon Neon," its meditative closer, could bleed into "Lights Come On," the opener from 2016's They Don't Know, and nobody could tell a different album had started -- but in subtle ways, the record reveals a singer who is beginning to feel out his middle age. None of this is related to the October 2017 tragedy in Las Vegas, where Aldean was on-stage when a shooter fired into a crowd during the Route 91 Harvest Festival, as Rearview Town was basically completed at that point. Instead, the album -- his eighth -- finds the singer taking a side glance at middle age and deciding it might not be a bad place to be after all. While he won't hesitate to raise a few and "Set It Off," he's no longer leaning into hell-raising anthems. Aldean pivots off his facility with romantic slow-burners to create songs where he takes a long look at where he's at, concluding he's "Better at Being Who I Am." Make no mistake, a good portion of Rearview Town is designed to soundtrack a party -- he even raps on "Gettin' Warmed Up" -- but, more than ever, Aldean is persuasive when he's softer and, despite the modern electronic glint of the production, he also sounds better when things aren't quite so steely. Along with that reflective "Better at Being Who I Am," he lays into the classic soul trappings of "You Make It Easy" without a hitch, suggesting that Rearview Town may one day be seen as something more than another reliable Aldean album. Instead, it could wind up being the first chapter of his second act.

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