on 11 June 2012
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.
I recall the first time I heard Alan Jackson singing Here in The Real World, a brilliant debut. Over the 20 or so years since, he has consistently recorded very good to excellent country albums. He is country and nothing could change that. This is his latest and on a new record company but apart from that, this is typical Jackson. Great songs, great band and effortless country crooning in a style that instantly places him apart from the pack. This album has the usual mix of live songs, the poignant, the humourous, the honky tonkers and the stone country. No weak tracks. All of a very high standard as one would expect from Jackson. Highlights for me is the stone country "So You Don't Have To Love Me Anymore". the bittersweet "Look Her in The Eye and Lie" and the great duet with the superb Zac Brown Band "Dixie Highway". Nothin' fancy says it all....just great country music by a great country singer who always delivers the goods. If you like Alan Jackson, this is a worthy addition to the collection. He keeps the country in country music. If you like traditional country music or modern country music this is a great listen. Highly recommended.
Alan Jackson's voice never ages. He still sounds as fresh as he did 15-20 years ago.
Quite simply, a living legend.
FIRST, listen to 'She Don't Get High'. The most beautiful song i've heard since 'Where were you'. Crisp vocals, typical polished recording where vocals are allowed to shine.
Any AJ fan needs this in their collection.
on 10 October 2012
This is Alan Jackson's 17th. studio album, it is his first as a recording artist for ACR / EMI Records Nashville, after recording for two decades for Arista. He released his first single in 1989, and since then has had 35 number one Country hits. He has received 16 CMA awards, 17 ACM awards and 2 Grammy's.
In recent years Alan Jackson's albums have contained many rather bland songs, but on this, his latest album "30 Miles West", I feel he has made some excellent choices as regards material and every one of the 13 tracks is a winner.
The opening track "Gonna Come Back as a Country Song" has an unusual theme, `reincarnation'.
In fact this guy wants to come back as a Country song "I'm hoping when the good Lord calls me home / I'm gonna come back as a Country song / I'll be playing all night in every honky tonk bar / In the middle of a fiddle and a steel guitar /" It is a lively, catchy bar room song with piano, steel and fiddle highlights.
"You Go Your Way" is a `loved and lost' ballad in traditional Country style. His woman packs and leaves him. He is left to drown his sorrows, drinking his bourbon from a coffee cup, and now he has to accept that when loves dies, life goes on.
"Everything But the Wings". A very slow, sensuous ballad, beautifully sung by Alan. It would make a suitable first dance at a wedding or a dedication to the woman you love on her Birthday, or on a wedding anniversary. The ladies will love this song.
"Talk is Cheap". A lively foot tapper about not wasting your life, and making the most of every day. Lovely steel guitar backing throughout, interlaced with some gentle guitar licks.
"So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore". This song has already been in the country music charts, deservedly so. It is a lovely song about a marriage break-up, but although she has left him, he still has precious memories of the wonderful times they have shared and nothing can take that away from him. He does not even care if she says it is all his fault "When you and your friends talk, make it all my fault / Tell `em I'm rotten to the core / I'll let it all slide, get `em on your side / So you don't have to love me anymore /". A gentle backing enhances this song.
"Look Her in the Eye and Lie". This poor guy has just been dumped by his girlfriend and he asks his buddy for advice on how to react when he sees her. His friend's advice is "Just look her in the eye and lie / Tell her you don't love her / And tell her you don't care / Tell her you don't need her / Give her the cold shoulder / And say you'll never cry / Look her in the eye and lie". This light hearted fun song is for the guys, with one telling the other to put on a brave macho' face and forget about her (well, he won't win her back with this advice).
"Dixie Highway". This track is written by Alan Jackson. The album is called "30 Miles West" because his home town is 30 miles west of the Dixie Highway. He is joined by fellow Georgian, Zac Brown. Their previous collaboration was "As She's Walking Away", this song topped the Country charts in November 2010 (the most requested airplay song in the USA), and it is possible that "Dixie Highway" could achieve the same popularity. It is a song that tells of the simple pleasures of growing up in this area, Sunday lunch at Momma's table, chickens in the backyard, a front porch swing, gospel songs in Church on Sundays. "When I'm old and Heaven's calling / And they come to carry me away / Just lay me down in the South land / Bury me in the Georgia clay / No sweeter place you'll ever find". This 7 minute long track is a musical journey along the Dixie Highway has some of the finest musicians in the Country music business showing their expertise on fiddle, steel, banjo, guitars etc. These home spun lyrics come with a musical "WOW" factor.
"Long Way to Go". A lively but sad bar room ditty about a guy who is sitting in a beach bar trying to drown his sorrows with a Margarita, but his glass has a bug in it, and it seems to be a "lost in love bug". "Seems I have a bug in my Margarita / Seems bad luck won't leave me alone / I've got a woman I'm trying to drink away / And I've got a long, long way to go". It is a catchy, infectious foot tapper.
"When I Saw You Leaving (for Nisey)". This song was written by Alan and dedicated to his wife Denise. They have been married 33 years and in 2010 she was diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately in March 2012 she was given the "all clear". This very emotional song tells of his feelings when they first heard the bad news, I will let the moving lyrics tell the story, "Ain't it funny how one minute / Your whole life's looking fine / And a short few words later / It all comes untied / So shocked and disillusioned / Helpless and confused / Not knowing how or what to say / Not accepting that it's true / Asking God to let you take her place / Or just take it all away". On a personal note, a very, very, dear friend has just been diagnosed with the same illness, so I can empathize with the touching words of this song.
This album reaches every emotion, Alan's voice is at it's very best. Excellent both musically and vocally. One of the best albums I have heard this year.
on 30 September 2012
Alan Jackson has maintained the highest standards that he set himself with another fine CD. With excellent accompaniment, including prominent drum/percussion throughout, almost metronomic.
GONNA COME BACK AS A COUNTRY SONG - A good opener, this is a mid-paced novelty song.
YOU GO YOUR WAY - A song about the parting of the ways, a typical AJ track.
EVERYTHING BUT THE WINGS - Slower thoughtful track. This love song was written by AJ. Splendid acoustic guitar and fiddle work.
TALK IS CHEAP - Quicker. One of those songs you get into your head and it stays there. Infectious rhythmic track.
SO YOU DON`T HAVE TO LOVE ME ANYMORE - Slows down again, a self pitying song. Well sung though.
LOOK HER IN THE EYE AND LIE - Another track written by AJ. A stronger harder uptempo sound about a break-up. Notable guitar work.
DIXIE HIGHWAY - Featuring Zac Brown, this fast-paced track, written by AJ, moves along with brilliant fiddle, guitar, piano and banjo to the fore. Get up and dance to this. It seems to last about 15 minutes. Maybe I am just worn out!
SHE DON`T GET HIGH - A more relaxed pace about losing love. Another self pitying song. a complete contrast to the previous track.
HER LIFE`S A SONG - Faster and written by AJ. This is a feelgood song toe-tapper of a song.
NOTHIN` FANCY - A slower romantic ballad that just rolls along.
LIFE KEEPS BRINGIN` ME DOWN - Keeping the same pace, this sounds like a George Jones type of song about bad luck. AJ does a good job with a busy sounding backing.
WHEN I SAW YOU LEAVING - AJ wrote this melancholic track about losing someone you love. Poignant emotive lyric. Almost poetic.
A good solid all-round album, not a duff track anywhere. Good value.