Governments might rise and fall and Jubilees come and go but there's one thing we can be certain of - every couple of years Alan Jackson will release a new album and everything will feel right in the world of country music for a while.
One of the songs on the album is titled "Nothin' Fancy" and this just about sums up this collection. It's Alan Jackson doing what he does best. And you really can't ask for more than that!
The 13 tracks offer us the usual mix of uptempo fun tracks, the midpace more throughtly numbers, and a couple of slow sad songs. The opening "Gonna Come Back as a Country Song" has AJ saying, "When the good Lord calls me home, I'm gonna come back as a country song", and if you've listened to him over the years you'll be able to imagine it being the case! There's more high jinks towards the end of the album with the single "Long Way To Go" and "Life Keeps Bringin' Me Down" - both fun songs but oddly placed side-by-side on the album as they do sound similar.
It's the sad numbers that really stand out on this collection. "Everything But The Wings" is a somewhat cliched song concept but is a truly fine song, and listen out for the superb fiddle solo about 2 minutes in - marvellous stuff! Lots of reviewers have been mentioning the last song, "When I Saw You Leaving (For Nicey)", a song about his wife's health scares a few years back. It's a very personal song and nicely delivered, but does seem to sound very similar to "Sissy's Song" from the "Good Time" album.
The standout track of the album occurs bang in the middle of the album. The seven minute "Dixie Highway" features a guest vocal from Zac Brown and has the two singers trading lines on a song about the area they both grew up in. Rather like "Long Long Way" from "Good Times" and the title track from "Freight Train", "Dixie Highway" features lots of space for the musicians to spread out and I can imagine this one will be superb in a live setting.
So, nothing new here particularly but that's fine with me. We've got Mr Jackson serving up the goods again. Probably not his best release but an album that will almost certainly feature in my, and a lot of other people's, top 10s at the end of 2012.