Alan Jackson - Angels and Alcohol

Humphead Records 4723504

Good ol’ country music. You don’t realise how you miss it until it hits you full in the face like it does when you put ANGELS AND ALCOHOL on whatever form of music player you utilise…a good time attitude (whether optimistic or defiant) mixed with moments of reflection and the easy way that the studio band members effortlessly work off each other distinguishes this album from other current ‘country’ records tumbling out of the Nashville studios. Without a doubt one of the most distinctive country songwriters and storytellers of the last three decades, Alan Jackson makes a return with his first all new studio release in three years. Since his debut album released back in 1989, we have witnessed the singer’s music progress across an impressive 20 albums.

There is a generosity of spirit, a feeling of basic goodness that lies at the heart of Alan Jackson and his music. The qualities that have made Jackson an inspiration to his fans and peers are prominent throughout this album, which ranks with the artist’s finest work in terms of melodic craft, verbal eloquence and emotional insight, with evocatively spare arrangements that set the ideal tone for such thematically related new compositions as You Can Always Come Home, Flaws and Leave A Light On. These, along with his recent single, Jim And Jack And Hank and You’ll Never Know, showcase his emotionally vivid, musically expansive songwriting and his uncanny ability to distil a novel’s worth of narrative and character detail into an effortlessly melodic country tune. The songs are rich in metaphor, heart and instrumentation, musing on love, art and purpose, with skilful precision and a storyteller’s heart.

He is also wise enough to choose a trio of songs from outside writers. The first, Gone Before You Met Me, is a clever mid-tempo song about however tempting the freedom of the road might seem, there’s nothing to beat the stability of a solid home-loving family existence. Even more compelling, for me at least, is the captivating The One You’re Waiting On. Written by his cousin Adam Wright and his wife Shannon, this is rich with honesty and emotion that is as refreshing as it is unique. Just as remarkable is When God Paints, a simple and descriptive song about faith that is full of great subtlety and plain truths.

Alan Jackson has kept true to his country roots with his salt of the earth lyrical mastery, emotional depth, and soothing voice. As always, his voice is warm and captivates you, melodies hanging in your ears long after the song’s end. At the moment, there are few others in modern country who carry his rugged presence. Alan Jackson is that much sought-after treasure in music. He’s the real deal.