"Life is circular. Country just came back to me. It's like the acoustic thing. I did that before the band [Staind]. This is full circle because this was the first music I was ever exposed to as a child." --AARON LEWIS
If you want to get to know AARON LEWIS, just listen to The Road. On his first full-length album, the Grammy Award-nominated, multi-platinum singer, songwriter, and guitarist tells one story after another. Echoing traditional country, some of those tales are hilarious and heartwarming, while others are pensive and personal. Nevertheless, they're all equally powerful, vibrant, and unforgettable. For Lewis, The Road continue to wind and surprise like it always has.
In 2011, the Staind frontman formally arrived in the country world with the release of his debut EP, Town Line. Highlighted by the success of gold-selling single "Country Boy" featuring the legendary George Jones and Charlie Daniels, the seven-song EP reached #1 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart and #7 on the Billboard Top 200 upon release. Critical praise followed: PEOPLE’s Chuck Arnold said, "He proves to be a natural on nostalgic ballads like 'The Story Never Ends,’ (3/14/11)," while the ASSOCIATED PRESS’ Michael McCall wrote, “He injects a flavor of his own into a polished, commercial country sound in a way that could win over country fans who've never heard of Staind (2/28/11).”
Lewis also received two Academy of Country Music nominations for "Vocal Event of the Year" for "Country Boy" (for his work as artist and as co-producer) as well as two CMT nominations--one for "USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year" and another for "Collaborative Video of the Year." Simultaneously, the music video for the single stirred similar fan fervor, surpassing 12 million views on YouTube and 3 million on CMT.com. After a whirlwind year, Lewis began working on what would become The Road in the fall of 2011.
While balancing both a solo run and a tour supporting Staind's self-titled seventh studio album, he carved out intermittent pockets of time to record in Nashville with legendary Grammy-winning producer James Stroud.
"I didn't stop to think about it very much," Lewis smiles. "James lets me run with it. We respect each other and he allows me to really be who I am. I recorded this whole record by bouncing in and out of Nashville on days off. I'd come into town, work for the day, bail out, and play some more shows. Four days later, I'd do the same thing. That's how the album was made, and it's why I called it The Road."
It's a natural progression from Town Line. The album's ten songs unfold with a classic grit and an invigorating energy all directly from Lewis's heart and soul. The first single, "Endless Summer," recalls an idyllic day in the sun with his daughters. A bluesy guitar twang bends into a shimmering refrain about "another day in paradise" that's both infectious and inimitable.
Lewis laughs, "It proves I can write a happy tune. It's a story about me and the family going to our beach cottage on the weekends. It's all true. We drive down there, cook striper on the grill, and dig our own clams."
Then there's "Forever," a true product of The Road itself. It captures the longing and loneliness of life on the tour bus, while reflecting the immortality of true love. It's touching and thought-provoking all at once. "Doubt can set in on the road," he reveals. "Conversations from home aren't always warm and fuzzy. However, things change when you get back. The song goes from questioning to being reassured that everything is all good."
On the other end of the spectrum, his sense of humor shines through on the propulsive highway anthem "State Lines" and swaggering old school good-time of "Party in Hell." Lewis goes on, "Adding humor opens the avenues of exploration a little bit more, and it appeals to more of the senses. Plus, it's just fun to imagine what a party in hell might be like with Rick James."