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New Artist Spolight: Aaron Lewis

Aaron Lewis, lead singer of Staind.

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2011 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

Not every newcomer can persuade Charlie Daniels, George Jones and Chris Young to join in on his debut single. Then again, Aaron Lewis isn’t your typical newcomer. He’d already built a massive following as frontman for Staind when he came down to Nashville to explore a side to his music seldom exposed on the alt-metal circuit.

Town Line, produced by Lewis and James Stroud and released on R&J Records, brings that side to life. These five songs and two bonus tracks, all written solely by Lewis, combine sensitivity and introspection, poetic soul and fierce pride in his roots. Lewis is in fact a product of rural America, raised in Vermont and exposed by his grandfather to Merle Haggard, Hank Williams (Senior and Junior), fishing, hunting and communion with nature.

This background inspired his autobiographical first single, “Country Boy.” His voice here is worn but tough; a Dobro and raw electric guitar cast haunted shadows, and his three stellar guests join the autobiographical narrative. “I grew up down an old dirt road in a town you wouldn’t know” he begins — an exquisitely crafted line, spare, evocative and defiant. That mood sustains to the end, qualifying “Country Boy” as a genuine anthem for country and the lifestyle it represents. Fans responded too, boosting sales to near Gold status and viewing the “Country Boy” video more than 7 million times by late June.

Lewis still lives in the Northeast, and true to the spirit of writing from what one knows first-hand, he offers “Massachusetts” to celebrate his state as a patriotic icon as well as an ideal place for his family — yet he does so with a spirit that’s right at home with Music Row. It takes talent to paint pictures from disparate elements — the kind of talent heard on Town Line.

IN HIS OWN WORDS

MUSICAL HERO
“My father.”

SONG YOU’D LOVE TO COVER
“Man, I think I’ve covered them all!”

PET PEEVE
“People who think they deserve something without earning it.”

FAVORITE FOOD ON THE ROAD
“There’s nothing better than a good steakhouse.”

SOMETHING WE’D NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU
“I’m a trained goldsmith. I can take a piece of wax, carve it up, cast it, turn it into metal, polish it, set stones in it and hand you a finished piece of jewelry.”

On The Web: www.AaronLewisMusic.com

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