Old Boots. New Dirt.

Artist: Jason Aldean
Listenability Scale: 93%
Released by: Brokem Bow Records
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Well shit. I admit I pretty much dismissed caring about Jason Aldean and his new album, “Old Boots, New Dirt” after hearing the first single, “Burnin’ it Down.” Although a little catchy, I really didn’t care for it. It was nice and all, had some dirty, thought-provoking lyrics like “We’re just hangin around… Laying right here, naked in my bed.”, but I guess any thoughts of being a big-shot music mogul who can pick singles should just run out of my head because I would find myself changing stations whenever the fastest selling country single in 2014 would come on the radio.

Lucky for me I was given the chance to hear the rest of the album, and although I’ll let you know my favorites by the end of this review, I won’t count on any of my choices being the next hit single, though the album has potential for a ton of them.

“Just Gettin’ Started” kicks off the album, upbeat, and the stage is set that Jason’s on a trip of having a great time, mixing a bad-boy image with a touch of the sensitive side, and “Show You Off” continues the country-rockin’ attitude of “Hey, I’ve got this hot girl. Look at me.”

There’s a lot of up-beatness on the album, continuing on with songs like “Sweet Little Somethin’” and “I Took It With Me,” as well as “Tonight Looks Good On You,” but me, I was really liking a lot of the more thought-provoking, slower, reflective songs.

Songs like “Tryin’ To Love Me” and the line “I pushed, you pulled. Should’ve just fell into you…” bring instant thoughts of the jackass guy who doesn’t know how lucky he is with the good woman, and “Don’t Change Gone” is a wonderful, reflective look at a love, gone.

My favorites on the album, you know, those songs I can listen to over and over again, contain the trio of the title track, “Old Boots, New Dirt” that is another reflective-style song of trying to move on, “If My Truck Could Talk” which is just a fun look at something in your life that knows more about you than you do as well as knows every story of your life (I really love the lines “Anything to shut it up.” and “I’d have to find a river bank and roll it off, if my truck could talk.”), as well as the previously mentioned “Tryin’ to Love Me.”

Jason Aldean seems to like to portray the bad-boy image a lot, but “Old Boots, New Dirt” shows he’s quite the sensitive kind of guy, who also happens to like some cold Jack Daniels. My not really caring for “Burnin’ it Down” aside, I have to say that listening to “Old Boots, New Dirt” reminded me not to dismiss an album because of one song that’s not to my taste because I’m not fast-forwarding through anything else on the album. It’s 93% on the Entertainment Ave! Listenability Scale from me for “Old Boots, New Dirt.” If you, like me, aren’t a fan of his fastest selling single of 2014, I encourage you to give the rest of the album a try. You’ll probably like it.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!!


Artist: Lady Antebellum
Listenability Scale: 91%
Released by: Capitol Records Nashville
A Review by:
Andy Labis

You might think Lady Antebellum, after four albums, would begin to lose their ability to stay fresh and shift a little into “resting on our laurels” mode, as well as that sometimes cookie-cutter, hit-manufacturing process some artists will drift. You would be wrong. Their fifth studio album, “747”, is as fresh as ever, contains a number of songs that keep getting stuck in my head, and though not perfect shows that the trio of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood aren’t about to just take the safe route with manufactured, radio-friendliness, and a “Whoa oh” thrown into a song for good measure.

If you’re a country fan you’ve undoubtedly heard “Bartender.” It’s been all over the country charts hitting the top spot easily with sing-a-long goodness and the fact that the girl is “comin’ in hot.” “Bartender” shows a little where most of the album is going, at least theme wise, with a lot of love is over (Bartender), missing love (Damn You Seventeen), realizing you’re just being used in love (Just a Girl, with the line “cuz I’m always your consolation prize”), and hoping love doesn’t fall apart (the barreling-through-the-skies title track, 747, “she gets a little bit closer to saying ‘Goodbye’” and the ever catchy “This 747 can’t go fast enough.”).

Lady Antebellum - 747The album, though, does have its share of happy things in love and living, like the reminiscing of “Down South,” challenges of getting the perfect girl in “She Is”, and what has the potential to be at every country wedding for a first dance or prom come come the Spring, “One Great Mystery” with sure, some sappiness in a line like “If I go first, I will wait for you,” but as someone in love with a girl who makes me happy every day I too wonder often “What did I ever do to make you fall for me?”

Though “Freestyle” isn’t my favorite track on the album, I will give credit with throwing in a nice Matthew McConaughey “All right, all right” reference, and “Lie With Me” kind of just floats out there for me, which I feel a little bad writing because in their press release it mentions Hillary Scott having high hopes for the song. I do understand the story of it and see the scene of the song play out, but it just doesn’t stick with me. I don’t find myself hitting the fast forward button on either of them either, though, so maybe they are continuing to grow on me.

While stretching their wings a little bit and trying a few new things, especially an album mostly of up-tempo, foot-stomping fun, I don’t think Lady Antebellum is drifting too far from their harmonious sounds to upset anyone in their fan-base. An album like 747, in fact, keeps them sounding fresh so it’s not just a collection of “That sounds just like…” album.

I will say when “Bartender” was on the radio I would eventually find the song stuck in my head at odd hours of the day. After listening to 747 the trio of “Damn You Seventeen,” “747,” and “One Great Mystery” have taken over, on a shuffle loop, invading my shower time, waking time, and just sitting around time. With that I’m thinking there are probably a few more hits destined for the radio from the album.

747 is Lady Antebellum goodness and 91% on the Entertainment Ave! Listenability scale. Whoa yea!

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

The Job

Artist: Michael Stanley
Listenability Scale: 100%
Released By: Line Level Music
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Michael Stanley has been on a “The…” theme for the last few albums, going from “The Hang” to “The Ride” and now to “The Job,” his 10th solo album. Combine those ten with the thirteen albums from the Michael Stanley Band and if there was ever a story to be written of a man who loves to be a songwriter, and a songwriter whose progression of writing has shifted and grown over the years, I think Michael might make the best subject. Say what you will about the “local” versus national stardom Michael has always had, you can never say that the man doesn’t put his heart and soul into his writing and telling stories in his music, stories of challenges, of love, of sex, of work, of life.

Still rockin’ though with a slight country-rock sound to it, “The Job” opens with “Everything’s Fine,” which sure, has a line I find a little cheesy with the likes of “Everything’s fine, right up till it’s not,” but the song of danger and thrills of a woman on the loose is a fun way to set the stage for an album that will take you through excitement, challenges, and hope.

The title track brings a guitar-driven look at the career Michael has had, from buying a guitar because of Elvis to playing for a hundred thousand people underneath the stars. “One more night, one more show, but that’s the job.” That’s Michael’s job, but I think he loves it more than heading to Florida with a 401k.

There is some darkness on the album in the likes of “Breaking News,” with an acoustic guitar melody of loss and reflection, and “Dark Angels,” a ballad that musically reminds me of “Wasted Time” from the Eagles, which shouldn’t come as a surprise with the likes of Bill Szymczyk handling Producer duties.

Michael does have some good times on the album, though with some hesitation, like the sensual and bluesy “Velvet Parkway” where he’s “Going down, down, down, down, down” and feeling her body start to sway, and “Taking the Long Way Around” where sometimes love takes awhile.

My favorites on the album, though, are the songs of hope, like “Maybe This is the Day,” up-tempo with a violin interlude that is something you don’t always hear on a Michael Stanley song, and a song I can’t get out of my head, “You Just Never Know,” opening with a bluesy feel and the lines “We’ve all got memories riding with us, That tell us where we’ve been,” continuing to the chorus of hope “If you feel you’re going under, you’ve got nothing left to bleed, everything has stole your thunder, and you find it hard to breath… Just gotta take the fight into the heart of another night, … ‘cuz you just never know.” Sometimes there is just a song that sticks with you on an album, and for me this is that song.

Another winner from Michael Stanley as far as I’m concerned, “The Job” might be dark at times but the mix of his guitar-driven rock sound, that “Eagles” vibe he’s always had, and a little more bluesy-ness makes this one stay on my “can always listen to” music rotation list. Great lyrics, fantastic solos and singing from the likes of The Resonators, and thirteen solid tracks that take you on a journey lead to 100% on the Entertainment Ave! Listenability Scale for “The Job.”

I sort of always hate writing reviews of Michael Stanley songs, mostly because in my head I hear his lines of criticism of reviewers (From Midwest Midnight “He was taken to task by some critic who asked,” a line that for the longest time I thought was “some critical ass…”, and from Poison Pen with “Those who can, do. Those that can’t, write about it.”), and here I am, writing about it. I suppose, though, Michael has more things to worry about than some “critical ass” doing a review because, as he puts it in “The Job,” “There are songs that still need to be written, there are songs that must get played,” and he is the man to do it, even it happens in a club around from the glory days.

That’s it for this one! I’m Andy!! L8R!!!