Next year, Jason Aldean will celebrate a decade since "Hicktown," his first single, raced up the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Peaking at No. 10, it was the start of a very successful run for the Georgia native.
"It's been a great decade. Just to look back and see that I've had a career that has lasted 10 years is more than I could have hoped for in the beginning. To be where we are is pretty exciting," he said, though he tells Billboard he hopes that run is a long way from over. "I like to think I've got a lot left in the tank. So, hopefully, in another 10 years, we'll be doing the same thing. That's the goal."
The singer -- who releases his sixth studio album, Old Boots, New Dirt, on Tuesday, said he feels he has grown as an artist since that debut project. "I would like to think that every time you go into the studio to make a new album, you've matured as a singer and an artist. I think you might be just drawn to certain songs at points in your life. I just try to find the best songs I can, things I can relate to and sing about. There are songs on the first album that I probably would never cut today -- even something like 'Hicktown,' I don’t know if I would cut that right now. I was 27 when I recorded it, and it’s a decade later. There’s just certain things that I probably wouldn’t do the same now. I like to think I've grown and gotten better at picking songs, and knowing what I want my records to sound like. I feel like I know my audience pretty well."
"Burnin' It Down," the disc's first single, quickly found its way up the charts, topping the Country Songs chart in just two weeks. He smiles when comparing that to the chart runs of his early singles. "I remember back to the days when my first couple of singles came out, and it took them 40 weeks to climb the charts," he recalled. "To put out a song like that these days, and for it to get that much attention that quick, that hasn't always been the case for us. To me, it means the songs you are putting out are good songs. The fact that people are going out and downloading -- that makes you feel good." The single has already sold well over 500,000 downloads.
Old Boots, New Dirt should add a few more hits to the Jason Aldean catalog. One track in particular that he has high hopes for is "Tonight Looks Good on You," of which he says, "I think that’s a monster. Dallas Davidson is one of the writers on that. He and I have been friends for a long time, but for whatever reason, he had never had a cut on one of my records. He came out to a show, and was playing some songs. He played this, and I knew it was a hit right from the get-go. It's about a guy that is madly in love with his girl and everything about her. I heard Lionel Richie say one time that one thing that never goes out of style when you're writing songs is people falling in love and out of love. Those songs are always going to work no matter what," he said, though he stresses that he and producer Michael Knox try to pick those songs very carefully. "To me, it's a fine line of trying to find songs that aren't too soft in what it says. We don't quote a lot of 'love song' kind of things, but when we do, the melody is always really cool, and the way it's worded isn't really sappy."
Another song that has the potential to be huge is the nostalgic "If My Truck Could Talk," which he thinks will resonate with many of his fans. "I think that's another of those songs that as a guy, you always remember your first car -- the one you drive until the wheels fall off. You've got all these memories of things you've done in it, and at 16, that's what you look forward to most -- being able to drive. A song like this tells that story. I thought about my first car, running it into the ditch, and all the other things I did. I thought it was a really cool way to say something like that, and I had never heard a song say it that way."
Old Boots, New Dirt hits stores Tuesday.