Any doubters need only tune into the buzz around the just-released album My Kinda Party. Not only does the sound follow Aldean’s country-meets-aggressive-edgy guitars voice, but the November 2nd release includes his first duet—with Kelly Clarkson who he handpicked to join him on the song “Don’t You Want To Stay.” Choosing Clarkson, who’s well known for pop, is just another way Aldean shows he isn’t afraid to expand his country sound into areas fans will enjoy. The two will sing a duet on the 44th Annual CMA Awards airing live from 8 to 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 10th.
“I constantly listen to all different kinds of music but I never am listening to someone’s record and thinking I should [copy] part of it,” said Aldean of his influence. “I know exactly what I want stuff to sound like in the studio. The sound I want, the way I sing and phrase words, that evolved from what I listened to when I was growing up.”
Ever since his self-titled debut album was released in 2005, followed by Relentless in 2007 and Wide Open in 2009, Aldean has stayed with the “sound that brought me to the party.” That sound is based in country with roots extending back to George Strait, Conway Twitty and Ronnie Milsap.
After learning to play guitar when he was a teen, Aldean seemingly shot into the on-ramp for the big time very quickly with a publishing deal and recording contract in his early 20s. Although his career stalled for a time—and Aldean said he thought about leaving Nashville to return to Georgia—his first album was akin to a stone thrown in a pond. His particular ripple effects were chart topping singles including “Big Green Tractor,” “She’s Country” and “Johnny Cash.”
“I think it’s one of those things you have to stick with what you do,” said Aldean. “Lucky for me, I hung around long enough that [radio DJs] realized I wasn’t going anywhere so thought they’d better start playing my song. Really, the more you go out and play shows the more people start to hear what is you do…and it all comes together.”
Not that Aldean is resting on any laurels. Consider this latest album. Every day he had off touring was spent in the studio sifting through songs that he thought would work on the album. Although he is a prolific songwriter himself, he said he didn’t have any qualms about not having self-penned tunes on the album.
“I just want the best songs for the album,” he said. “Even though I consider my music country, I try to make the guitars a little more aggressive [than some] people might expect. I like to have the songs have a little more of an edge to them.”
Pulling extra edge into his music is one reason he chose Kelly Clarkson as his duet partner.
“Kelly is somebody to me who was a little different. She wasn’t a safe choice or predictable,” said Aldean noting her soulful, blues-tinged singing style. “Plus, I am a fan. I love her voice and her vocal style. I felt like she would add a cool part to the record.”
So committed was Aldean to ensuring his album would reflect his dedication to his fans, that he included 15 tracks.
“I’ve never recorded 15 tracks for an album before,” he said. “We worked harder on this album than we’ve ever worked on any other. In this economy, I want fans to know that I want to give them as much as possible for their money. ”
By Nancy Dunham
Nancy Dunham writes about music for Country Weekly, AOL Music’s site The Boot, The Washington Post, Relix and other publications.