Aaron Lewis is the lead singer for American alt-rock band, Staind. If you listened to any rock radio station in the late 1990s-early 2000s, you almost certainly heard Lewis belting out the ballad “So Far Away,” or “It’s Been A While.” But, before the band ever came together, Lewis played intimate solo acoustic shows in Massachusetts, starting at age 17 and earning local notoriety before helping form Staind in 1994. Staind sold 15 million albums worldwide, had eight top ten singles, and three number one hits. When Staind drummer Jon Wysocki left the band in 2011, Staind announced they’d be going on hiatus, and Lewis, who’d poured his life into that band for more than fifteen years, returned to his acoustic roots.
He found new musical freedom outside the band and made plans to record his first solo album called “The Road,” released in late 2012. If you’re looking for a rehash of Lewis’ heavier rock days, you won’t find it on this record. Lewis went straight country on “The Road,” and the resulting sound is very organic and authentic. His immediately recognizable, immensely emotive voice is still there, carrying the weight of angst that Lewis was so well known for with Staind, but the lyrics have shifted and grown up along with Lewis.
He now sings about his growing family, deserted highways, and the red, white, and blue – Americana essentially. The whole album fits in perfectly with mainstream country and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a few songs on the radio as I make my way to the beach for Memorial Day Weekend (in fact, the track “Endless Summer” made country music charts last year). If not on the radio, then definitely on my iPod.
It’s always a little strange to watch an artist you grew up with change their style after so many years of success with another formula, but at the same time, it’s very rewarding to witness the triumphant emergence of their “other side.” I’d even go so far as to say “The Road” is more representative of Lewis’ ideals and musical talents than anything he produced with Staind.
Maybe I’m just partial to the country twang, but Lewis’ last record doesn’t seem forced or faked at all. He’s not trying to keep up with the times or stay relevant – he’s already had his taste of fame. He’s creating his own product on his own terms and succeeding all the same, and that’s something we all strive for in life – to be accepted for who we are, and validated for our efforts. That’s what Lewis has always sung about, and now, it seems in his life and his music, he’s achieved that goal.
– Matt Ellis