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Alan Jackson

Drive – 2002 (Arista)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson's been in the spotlight since the 9/11 attacks with his introspective song about faith, love and belief, "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)." No wonder as it's indicative of what has historically made Jackson one of the genre's finest wordsmiths since his start. The song - offered twice here in studio version and a live version from the Counry Music Association awards - pinpoints the importance of the simpler things in life, but that's what could make the difference between the dawn of a new day and the emptiness "on that September day."

Jackson long has championed the plain values of America. In fact, not only does have AJ have one car-oriented song, but two - the title track, a tribute to his father, and "First Love," an ode to a vehicle, which comes off as a paean to an "older woman." No doubt about it, Jackson is a meat and potatoes kind of performer, but he consistently does so in an earnest, heartfelt way without being cute or cheap.

But he is not above poking fun at himself either. "Work in Progress" is a mea culpa song if there was ever one about a guy who tries to overcome his difficulties even seeking guidance from above. Jackson also manages to accomplish something most of his contemporariies fail big time - this is a country album - no blaring guitars and heavy handed drumming, of course. What there is it lots of honky tonk, fiddle, mandolin and great singing.

On his 11th album, Jackson puts simple, but deep meaning, songs in drive and takes off.