Throughout a recording career of 25 years that has yielded fifteen studio albums and twenty five country number ones, Alan Jackson has always maintained a commitment to his neo tradionalist values and has resisted the lure of country pop that so many of his contemporaries have embraced.
So it is not surprising that he has recorded an album of bluegrass which is probably the most traditional of all country music forms recalling the influences of old time music and string bands upon the genre.
This is an album suffused with the essential ingredients of bluegrass - banjo, mandolin, dobro, bass, fiddle and acoustic guitar - but an album where Jackson has resisted the tradition of using his upper register to sing "high and lonesome". This gives the collection a warmer, richer sound than one might expect of a traditional bluegrass album. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that he sounds as though he was born to sing bluegrass.
Eight of the fifteen songs have come straight from Jackson's pen and another surprise is just how authentic they sound and as though they have been part of the bluegrass canon for ever. "Blue Ridge Mountain Song", "Appalachian Mountain Girl", "Mary" and "Blue Side Of Heaven" sound like bluegrass standards already.
There are seven covers including a cracking version of The Dillard's "There Is A Time" and the classic "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" by the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe.
This is the sound of a man completely at ease with the music, whether writing it or playing it, and supported by a crack team of bluegrass session men. There is much to appreciate here either as an Alan Jackson fan or a bluegrass aficionado.