Jason Aldean named his tenth album Macon after his hometown, planning to follow the set in a few months with a companion record called Georgia. The pair is intended as two parts of a double album, as double albums are all the rage in country music in 2021, so maybe that explains why Macon is filled out with five live recordings in its back third; they give the impression that this is a robust record and not a collection of ten new songs that last just over a half-hour. Aldean isn't attempting anything new here. He sticks to the slow-burning, minor-key R&B-inflected jams in the vein of "Burnin' It Down," a template that he manages to adapt to songs about heartbreak, drinking, and odes to small towns. Occasionally, Aldean will break into another mode: "This Bar Don't Work Anymore" glides along to a relaxed urban cowboy vibe, a nod to the '80s that's paired with a heavy-footed rendition of Bryan Adams' power ballad "Heaven." By changing gears every so often, Aldean manages to give Macon a slight hint of a pulse, and that's welcome because when he sticks to the tried and true, he sounds a bit stultifying.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo