We like this version of Jason Aldean a little better.
Jason Aldean has always presented himself as an artist not looking for love, but respect. In 2017, he earned it. Although, the numbers won’t support Aldean for Artist of the Year. He had just two songs among the year’s most played on radio (“Any Ol’ Barstool” at No. 27 and “They Don’t Know” at No. 28, per Billboard).
This being a year he didn’t release a new album. Still, all the markings for “just another year” were there for the 40-year-old … Until Vegas. It was an important city for Aldean, who was the ACM Entertainer of the Year in April — an honor forgotten in time and overshadowed by what happened six months later. Aldean was performing when the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival began. Being on that stage when the gunfire started is a distinction he’ll never be able to distance himself from.
How he returned to the stage and that he returned so soon demands respect. After a five-day break, he made a strong, defiant statement to let everyone — not just country music, but a nation — know it’d be okay move forward. Alongside wife Brittany he’d visit victims and families a week later and then put his head down to honor commitments through the year’s end. Doing any more or any less would have stolen attention from the 58 people killed on Oct. 1.
Of course, his year ended with a bright light. Aldean and wife Brittany welcomed a baby boy named Memphis on Dec. 1, but watching the singer throughout the pregnancy was endearing. Brittany is good for his public image, at once loving on him and embarrassing him on social media.
A man who was once a one-dimensional country voice has become a well-rounded father, artist and man right before our eyes. We like this version of Jason Aldean a little better. The added humanity will be valuable when he preps his next record, which if he’s able to build off these experiences could be his best yet.