At this point, Alan Jackson needs no introduction. The man is a living legend in country music. He has proved over and over that traditional country can be cool and can be relevant. After dabbling in bluegrass for his last album, Alan is back in the country format for his latest release, Angels & Alcohol. A review of this album is hardly necessary. It is Alan Jackson. He doesn't know how to make bad music. But, I will still share some thoughts on this new album, which fits right in the Alan Jackson discography as a solid and entertaining group of tunes.
Angels & Alcohol is exactly what you'd expect from Alan Jackson. He has a knack for crafting thought provoking and touching stories with traditional country melodies. He can make you laugh, cry, and dance like few in the genre can. One of the most impressive aspects of this album is the fact that Alan wrote seven of the ten tracks. Furthermore, he didn't even have a co-writer on those compositions. Alan may have been around awhile, but his creative well has not dried up. This is a personal album that comes straight from the pen and guitar of Alan. The first track on the album may be the most personal of all, and probably the best overall effort on the collection. "You Can Always Come home" tells the story of his oldest daughter leaving home, with Alan giving the same advice that his father once gave him: if things don't work out, you can always come home. As Alan gets older, his music grows with him. Another well-written tune is the title track, "Angles And Alcohol". The song is a classic weeper about the dangers of mixing vice with the the good things in life. Once again, you get the feeling that Alan is speaking from experience. He has seen a lot. This sounds like a song that George Jones would have cut, and Alan sings in such a style that the emotion equals that of the Possum. "The One You're Waiting On" is a modern love story about a girl waiting on a guy that isn't worth her time while Alan puts some gentlemanly moves on her. Its refreshing to hear a song like this that isn't full of macho guys acting like pricks or trashy girls acting like hussies. If you liked "Every Light In The House Is On" by Trace Adkins, good news! Alan Jackson released the sequel! "I Leave A Light On" is a little different take on the same theme. In this case the light is for the memory of the one that left. Even if it is a similar theme, Alan makes it all his own and ups the sadness in his version. Rounding out the weighty songs is the magnificent "When God Paints", a heartfelt ode to faith in God. Alan points out the shortcomings of his own faith and shows off the wonderful parts about trusting in God. Once again, Alan speaks like someone who has been there. You believe every word. Alan does that better than anyone in the business right now.
Of course, Alan knows how to have a good time as well. The lead single, "Jim And Jack And Hank" is a great drinking song that has the good time aspects that the bros on the radio love today, but the heartache and misery that makes it worth your time. It may be a little reminiscent of "Achy Breaky Heart", but it is still a good time. It would make a great line dancing song. "Mexico, Tequila, and Me" is another great country-beach hit that Alan does so well. The song is light and fun, but the music is as country as it gets. Of course, Alan still makes this song believable with his odes to everyday people in the song. Sure, it's similar to bro-country, but it is better. It still has a point, unlike the "list songs" on the radio, and there is enough meat on the album to justify some time to blow off some steam. "Gone Before You Left Me" is a great story song about leaving and growing up that every rambler and renegade can easily relate to. It has a bouncy rhythm to get your toes tapping, and a great story that makes you smile. What could be better? "You Never Know" sounds like a classic Alan rocker from the 90's, similar to "Who's Cheatin' Who", and is another nice breath of fun on a personal album. "Flaws" is not a bad song really, but it is the only one that doesn't quite match up to the rest of the album quality wise. Of course, Alan's worst work is better than many artists' best work, so it is still worth a listen.
When I was a kid, my mom was Alan Jackson's biggest fan. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard "Someday". She loved that song. As a child, I was drawn to his fun songs like "Chattahoochie". As I got older, songs like "Little Man" hit home as I am from a small town. "Where Were You" helped make sense of a very confusing moment for a middle school student. I give most of the credit to my love (obsession?) with country (REAL country) to my mom and Alan Jackson. So, needless to say, I'm biased. That being said, I don't see how anyone can really like country music and not appreciate Alan Jackson. He is exactly the kind of artist that our genre was built upon. He is a living legend. Angels & Alcohol is a great addition to your Alan Jackson collection, or a great way to start getting into him if you haven't before. This is easily one of the strongest albums of the year and a must listen to real country fans! Thank you, Alan, for ALWAYS keeping it country!!!!
Standout Tracks: "You Can Always Come Home", "Angels And Alcohol", "Gone Before You Left Me", "I Leave A Light On", "Mexico, Tequila, and Me", "Jim And Jack And Hank"
"Jim And Jack And Hank"
"Angels & Alcohol"