Aaron Lewis "Town Line" Review — 5 out of 5 Stars
Fri, 25 Feb 2011 14:35:45
Aaron Lewis redefines Americana with his first solo offering, Town Line [Stroudavarious Records, March 1st, 2011].
The five-song EP sees the Staind frontman penning some of the best, brightest, and most brilliant songs of his illustrious career to date. Lewis transforms classic Americana with his gritty and direct songwriting, some touches of country, and a whole lot of heart.
Town Line's opening, "The Story Never Ends," pairs Lewis's powerful pipes with pedal steel by legend Paul Franklin and Lewis's instrumental partner-in-crime on the road, Ben "Kitt" Kitterman on dobro. The song rolls from a pristine riff into lyrics pining for home, as the singer takes us for a tour of the place he longs for. You can practically smell the pine trees flanking the road Lewis so vividly paints. "Vicious Circles" builds with the kind of intensity that Lewis mastered in Staind. His words have meant so much to a whole generation, and here he evolves even further as a songwriter examining the ups and downs of a relationship over an acoustic guitar and country arrangement.
Producing the music alongside country legend James Stroud in Nashville, Lewis found the perfect balance between his own lyrical intensity and vocal power and a country sense of soul. The production remains utterly pristine to the point that you can hear each string pluck resound as massively as every refrain.
First single, "Country Boy," is one of the best anthems of 2011. With a little help from George Jones, Charlie Daniels, and Chris Young, the song allows Lewis to tell his story and create a hook for the ages in the process. It's as catchy as "Outside" or "It's Been Awhile" from Break the Cycle, but there's an intimacy in every line that beckons fans as much as ever. Kitterman's dobro across the record adds a unique flavor and perfectly rounds out the sound, giving Town Line a unique feel. He's a virtuoso in his own right and the perfect musical soul mate for Lewis.
"Massachusetts" should be played before Red Sox games for the next century—maybe longer. The song evokes Ray LaMontagne and Johnny Cash simultaneously, while emanating a one-of-a-kind vibrancy that radiates from Lewis alone. This love letter for Lewis's home state is bound to bring tears to even the driest eyes, and the Commonwealth should give our boy some kind of commendation for making the state sound so goddamn beautiful. In addition, Lewis re-worked, "Tangled Up In You," a standout track from Staind's The Illusion of Progress, and it's even more heavenly than before.
This is the first must-have record of 2011. It also further solidifies Lewis as one of the most talented and important songwriters of this generation and beyond.
Check out our most recent interview with Aaron Lewis here!
Check out our review of Aaron's solo show in Pechanga here!