Aaron Lewis — Town Line 

Aaron Lewis is not just some guy. He’s the lead singer of Staind.

There, that’s out in the open; I’m sure some people didn’t even get as far as this word after that sentence.

Here’s the next weed-out phrase: This is his country side project.

If you’re still here, you’ll be rewarded. Even with that bizarre pedigree, “Town Line” is good. Let me repeat that differently: The lead singer of Staind’s country side project does not suck. Wow.

It’s nothing groundbreaking, for sure. But in terms of hot country that skews toward outlaw country, there are several bright moments and nothing at all embarrassing on this five-song EP. I’d rather listen to this than hokey hitmakers Rascal Flatts any day. Lewis’ voice transfers over brilliantly, and his songwriting is remarkably solid. I mean, he made a career of workman-like rock in Staind; it shouldn’t be a surprise that he can do the same for country.

His lyrics are a pastiche of modern country themes (family, friends, freedom, firearms), bordering on caricature, but that’s pretty much par for the course these days in country. The chest-beatin’ patriotism of “Country Boy” is hard to take seriously, but it’s forgiven by the fact that absolute legend Charlie “That’s How Ya Do It, Son” Daniels is slumming/cameoing on the track.

“Massachusetts” is a finger-picked highlight that could fit on any slow ’n’ quiet mixtape. The slide guitar is actually used well, and the harmonies are evocative. It’s a straight-up great country song.

So if you’re in the mood for some solid country tunes, hit up Aaron Lewis’ “Town Line” EP. No matter what you think about Staind. —Stephen Carradini

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