On Friday (June 21) Aaron Watson will release his most ambitious album yet. Red Bandana is an imposing, 20-song collection that weaves his brand of Texas country ballads, swingers and more sensible pop-rockers in between three clear vignettes that pay homage to songwriters, heroes and victims.

In a sense, he's all three, but perhaps we are, too. This relatable, entirely self-written collection of songs starts with the chip on Watson's shoulder ground to a dangerous point and wraps with a one-minute tribute to the victims of the 2017 Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting. The journey flattens at times to allow the less-seasoned fan to catch up, but somewhere in the middle becomes cowboy poetry in ways that are thoughtful, if not inspiring.

"Red Bandana" is a symbol, but also a song that's born effortlessly out of "Riding With Red." "Trying Like the Devil" catches a ride on a train whistle that closes the title track. It's here the "Kiss That Girl Goodbye" singer and "Outta Style" hitmaker begins during a conversation with Taste of Country, with one of several clusters that flow together like a river after a mighty rain.

Out of this experience was born "I'll Be the Moon," because Watson and his "buddy" chatted about the experience later. Previously the singer shared his friend is an 11-year-old named Hayden who has Spina Bifida. They text frequently, and after this exchange, Watson told him he's not a star, to the young man's disbelief.

“I’m not a star, I’m really not," he tells Taste of Country. "But that doesn’t mean I’m not important.”

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