Jason Aldean is supporting a new album, “Rearview Town,” with a tour, which kicks off the grandstand concerts July 19 at the Great Jones County Fair in Monticello. However, the country superstar can’t put the tragedy he experienced last year in the rearview.
Who can blame him?
During his headlining set in Las Vegas at a country music festival Oct. 1, a gunman killed 58 people — the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
“I wanted to dedicate that to the people who were there, the victims,” Aldean penned in the liner notes of “Rearview Town.” “That was something I wanted to do, on a personal note.”
Don’t look for songs inspired by the event. Almost all of “Rearview Town” was written and recorded by last autumn. Aldean’s eighth album is another passionate project full of gritty, uncompromising and melancholy songs. Fans can twist such earnest cuts as “Dirt to Dust” and “I’ll Wait for You” into something they’re not. This is not an album akin to Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” released month after the Boss was rocked by 9/11.
But “Rearview Town” is the deepest album yet from the Macon, Ga., native. Aldean, 41, is coping well with middle age. “Better at Being Who I Am” and “Getting Warmed Up” are perfect for an entertainer embracing the next step in life.
Aldean didn’t write the songs, but he’s fine with recording tunes someone else penned.
“I moved to town as a songwriter,” Aldean said during a teleconference with Billboard. “I’m way capable of writing songs, and I 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.”
It’s not about ego with Aldean. He’s been a straight-shooter since he released his initial album, an eponymous self-titled project in 2005.
“Drowns the Whiskey,” which is arguably the catchiest song on the new “Rearview Town” album, is a duet with Miranda Lambert. The pair have an enviable chemistry. Aldean is not only friends with Lambert, the two have worked together in the past.
“We got started in this business together,” Aldean said. “We toured a lot together early on, and we did a song on my second album, ‘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 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.”
Aldean will continue to make highlights and at some point he will be better able to deal with the unfathomable tragedy that happened while he was performing in Las Vegas. There’s nothing comparable in music history, and Aldean has stated that it’s too easy to buy a gun.
He has lived through the incomprehensible. It’ll be interesting to see how that impacts his art. Will it inspire him to write some songs that he’ll record for his next album? Aldean has some choices to make. He has a large fan base, which is looking forward to his next move.
WHAT: Jason Aldean with Luke Combs opening
WHERE: Great Jones County Fair grandstand, 800 N. Maple St., Monticello
WHEN: 8 p.m. July 19
TICKETS: $75 track standing-room-only, $70 amphitheater/bleachers, Greatjonescountyfair.com; free on the hillsides, bring seating
GATE ADMISSION: $10; free ages 10 and under
ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Jasonaldean.com