Sound — 9
Aaron Lewis has unabashedly proven that he has left his mark in the music world. He is originally and currently the rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist for the American alternative rock and post-grunge band Staind, and throughout his 17 years as frontman he has assisted in creating 7 studio albums and 5 chart topping singles, which have been met with worldwide acclaim. And after 15 million albums sold and nearly two decades spent with this prestigious rock band, Aaron has now decided to venture out a bit and try something on his own; a full-length solo album, which follows the country vibe of last year's critically acclaimed EP "Town Line", while also packing a more significant rock and roll punch.
His new solo album "The Road" has Aaron freelancing his creative skill set and standing out in a manner in which he clearly is at the forefront. Considering how Aaron powerfully implemented his complimentary singing style and passion for the acoustic guitar in his albums with Staind, it should not come as a surprise that Aaron can make this jump from the alternative rock scene to a venue that can emphasize his vocals and acoustic guitar playing style. One of the best examples off the new record is "Anywhere But Here", which features Aaron adding a dash of bluesy country twang into his singing style, while backed by comforting acoustic guitar chords and some just standout backup vocals. Other clear highlights off the new disc is the anthemic "Red, White & Blue" and the upbeat "Endless Summer", which should be able to rock the charts as easily as Aaron's earlier work continues to do.
Now speaking of Aaron's earlier work, I have to say that I've given this new release a little bit of thought, especially his decision to jump the fence from alternative rock to country music. Now sure, it bears a moderately heavy country vibe and feel to it, but in many ways there's not much of a difference between Aaron's new solo album and most of his material with Staind. The vocals are the same, this time with just a dash of southern style. And the acoustic guitar isn't completely foreign to Aaron's work in Staind, either. In fact the acoustic accompaniment is partially what made such tunes as Outside so enjoyable. The difference is this time, the acoustic guitar is just louder and wields a more dominant power. So although The Road isn't exactly what longtime Staind fans might come to expect from the nu metal singer, this new solo album holds enough familiarity and creativity to, I think, not only appeal to country music lovers, but to the diehard Staind fans as well.
Lyrics — 8
Aaron's singing on "The Road" is downright top notch. Throughout all 10 tracks on the new record, Aaron masterfully adds a heavy southern accent into his voice, that is so head-on that it sounds as though he has been doing this for his entire music career. Throughout his time as the lead singer for Staind, I've always found Aaron's singing style to be more complimentary than anything else, as though he considered his own voice to be just another instrument in the song. I found that in his new solo record, Aaron is beginning to come more out of his shell vocally, and delivers a much more dominant presence when it comes to his singing.
Overall Impression — 9
"The Road" in many ways, proves to be more like a four-way intersection of sorts. On one hand, it features everything you might expect out of an Aaron Lewis solo album, such as the memorable acoustic guitar riffs and head haunting choruses that made many of Staind's songs radio hits. On another, you have a solo record that shows off the more musically complex side of the renowned frontman of Staind, overflowing with dominating country rock influences. Whether you are a full fledged Staind fan, or a country music fanatic, this is definitely worth picking up. For an album that is proving more and more to be one of the stronger country rock releases of the year, it's definitely worth every penny.