If you’re expecting a pop-infused country album from Aaron Lewis, stop reading this immediately. This isn’t for you.
If you’re like me and countless others missing the sincerity in country music lyrics and a traditional country sound, then you’ll have no problem immersing yourself in Aaron Lewis’ 3rd album, ‘Sinner’.
Apparently, we aren’t alone, as ‘Sinner’ was released at the end of September, and immediately went to #1 on the Billboard ALL GENRES Chart selling over 43,000 copies in its first week, and beating Beyonce and Mac Miller.
‘Sinner’ is the countriest album I’ve listened to all year, and Aaron Lewis sure has some heavyweight guests on the album, including bluegrass greats Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski, plus Vince Gill and Willie Nelson. Nelson is featured on the title track ‘Sinner’, which is one of my favorite cuts on the album because it really is the moral of the entire album: we are all sinners; every day we’re forced to live with our decisions; sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don’t. This is just an 11-song confessional beautifully set to music.
On the albums’ lead single, “That Ain’t Country”, it’s not necessarily a slam to “new” country music, but it definitely doesn’t shy away from addressing the obvious… country ain’t what it used to be. Vince Gill helps on the background vocals for this upbeat track.
On the heels of Chris Stapletons’ successful year, Aaron records an AMAZING version of Chris’ “Whiskey And You”. Aaron delivers the message with his intensely pure vocals… it’s a lot harder to give up on the hard stuff, rather than the love of your life. This song seriously gave me the chills and was only enhanced by the angelic background vocals of Alison Krauss.
Aaron Lewis “Whiskey And You” Acoustic:
Track 4 is called “Northern Redneck” and is a big ole’ hit. We may think everyone who made it in country is strictly from the South, but this is an homage to those of us who grew up in the Northern States. This song is a GREAT example of singing about REAL LIFE. “Get up early and we work third shift; pay our taxes and protect our kids…” Hmmm… sounds like life to me. No tailgates needed.
“Mama” is a song about getting parental advice and then deciding to do the complete opposite and thinking you can conquer the world. A great tale of learning from experience and being motivated by the family you must provide for and the dreams you wanted for yourself. The steel guitar sounds so amazing on this ode to owning up to your bad, or good? decisions.
If you’ve ever spent time drowning your sorrows in a bar then “Sunday Every Saturday Night” is the perfect anthem. “And for a moment I swear I hear Jesus sayin’ “Son, it’ll all be alright”,
So I take one more shot of redemption, Lord; It’s like Sunday every Saturday night.” This song was co-written by Ira Dean, formerly of Trick Pony.
“Lost and Lonely” is a song Aaron has been playing on-stage for a while now. Another one of my favorites off the album. It’s very autobiographical for a man who spends his life on the road, hoping to come home to a sense of normalcy and a life he’s created with his wife and kids.
On the tracks “Story Of My Life”, “Stuck In These Shoes” and “I Lost It All”, it all about vices, insecurities, loss and redemption. Pretty much an accurate portrait of the common man from song-to-song.
There’s nothing manufactured on this album. In fact, the whole album was done in-studio in one or two takes. Aaron Lewis is just a man who expresses himself thru his music, from a very vulnerable spot. If you grew up on Staind like I did, you can tell from his lyrics alone, that this is a man who believes every word he pens, because he’s lived it. And the life he’s lived has had many painful spots. The only way to “get to know” this man, is thru his lyrics. And I love that.
Now, if you’re asking yourself: “what the (blank) does THIS guy know about country music?” Please exit this screen immediately. Like most of us, Aaron was raised on country at home by his WWII Veteran Grandfather. Raised in Vermont and Massachusetts, his early influences included Merle, Waylon, and Cash. He lived in a VERY rural area, grew up in the outdoors and has probably stepped in more horse crap than you and I combined…. but I digress.
Listen, I realize that we can spend all day debating on what country music IS anymore. One thing I do know is, for Aaron Lewis, it’s not about where you live, it’s about a lifestyle, a set of values, and a love of our country. In the interest of full-disclosure, over the last 6+ years, I’ve gotten to know Aaron as a person and what you see is what you get. And he makes no apologies for his sound, his love of our military, our country, his guns, and his 3 daughters. As the daughter of a 28-year USAF Retired Colonel, I respect and admire Aaron for his constant support of our military.
I’ve saved the “gem” song on the album for last. It’s a version of the Dixie Chicks’ “Travelin’ Soldier”, recorded and performed by Aaron’s 14-year-old daughter, Zoe. A more beautiful and pure rendition of the song you will not here. I’d put major money down that Aaron would agree, this was a father-daughter moment that was irreplaceable.
I hate to sound like Oprah handing out her “live-your-truth” moments, but ‘Sinner’ is an amazing and honest compilation of Aaron Lewis’ truth. I highly recommend grabbing a copy of the album, and if you ever get a chance to see him live, do it. If you weren’t a fan before, you will be when you leave one of his shows.
Aaron performs live THIS Saturday, 10/29, right here in Riverside at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. Tickets and info HERE.
Buy ‘Sinner’ HERE.
Watch the “Sinner” album trailer below: