Alan Jackson – [Album]

Saturday, 27 March 2010

It's been a while since any country star (Willie Nelson doesn't count – he's spent the better part of the last decade doing everyone's material but his own) actually sounded like he came from a modest upbringing or has shown any affection for it if he did. There's a reason the stations on the radio are called 'New Country' operations now: the singers all sound like city slickers who wonder what a hard day's work might be like, but their hands remain perfectly smooth. That's the reason why his fans thank god for Alan Jackson; he's the last big star that sounds like he didn't forget where he came from (Newman, Georgia – in case you didn't know) – if he's ever left for anything other than touring obligations.

Jackson's new album, Freight Train, keeps to the singer's tradition of romancing the South; secular life endeavors like hometown kicks, hard, manual labor, the trials of growing up in a state of want, the joys of freedom, God and country, love lost, love won against all odds and all of the accessories of each are the guiding inspirations of each song on the album.

It's simple and easy, and it works; sometimes all you need is a folksy voice and a timeless angle to take. With those things, you're off to the races.

Like its namesake, the album gets moving from the opening Americana anthem “Hard Hat And A Hammer” and begins toward its inevitable conclusion, touching every important stop along the way. That might sound disparaging, but it isn't meant to; at its' core, every genre has certain conventions that most artists adhere to, and Alan Jackson is no different. Songs including “Taillights Blue,” “I Could Get Used To This Lovin' Thing,” the title track, “That's Where I Belong” and “After 17” play to all of the classic country themes, but they appear to be done here with a genuine love in the delivery that it's impossible not to get a warm feeling in the cockle of your heart from and so spur you into the singer's belief. Listeners will lose themselves in the spaces between the pedal steel beneath Jackson's voice and find comfort in the fact that, as much as things may have changed in the world, the simple pleasures and basic structures in country music can still work. That's the beauty of Freight Train: there is nothing fancy or flashy about it, it just plays simply and works.



Freight Train comes out on March 30, 2010. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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