Aaron Lewis "The Road" Album Review — 5 out of 5 stars
Thu, 15 Nov 2012 10:36:49
"I've borrowed pages from the life of Johnny Cash," admits Aaron Lewis on "Lessons Learned', a poetic and poignant centerpiece of his country full-length, The Road.
Lewis has certainly got some things in common with Cash. Like "The Man in Black", he's a vivid storyteller and brilliant lyricist. He's also had quite the journey walking the line.
However, Lewis is his own man, and that's what The Road repeatedly declares over the course of its ten songs. For 15 years, as the singer of Staind, he proved to be unlike anybody in hard rock, merging together heavenly melodies with harrowing screams for a sound that soothed a disaffected generation while providing catharsis. Impressively, he's unlike anybody in country either, and that's why he's made the genre's best record of 2012.
His honesty carries through the dreamy twang of "Forever" as he asks, "Is the sparkle gone forever?" The music itself belies the intensity of his confessional lyrics and catchy choruses. He manages to be more vulnerable than ever on The Road, while having some fun with traditional country instrumentation on the driving title track. You can practically feel the wind blowing on the highway as his voice bellows over a fiery guitar lead. "State Lines" should be any journeyman's anthem. It's smart, sharp, and slick country. He smiles, "I've worn the tires off this bus ten times. I've carried contraband across state lines".
Contraband in tow, everything is bolstered by the phenomenal and impeccable playing of his cohort Ben Kitterman. He makes it so you feel like you're in Nashville with them. Lewis's sense of humor shines through brilliantly on the album closer, "Party in Hell". He takes everybody down to the most fun circle of Satan's playground with hilarious quips about Rick James.
It's not easy to elevate one genre, and Lewis did that with hard rock. He's doing it again with country, breaking down the door with a little attitude and some downright incredible songwriting. The Road is everything country should be and more.
Johnny Cash would undoubtedly be proud…
What's your favorite song from The Road?