Sign up for newsletter
 

Alan Jackson

Everything I Love – 1996 (Arista)

Reviewed by Don Yates

Subscribe to Country CD Reviews CD Reviews

CDs by Alan Jackson

Since his impressive 1989 debut album, Alan Jackson has released one record after another of rock-solid hard country. His latest is no exception. With long-time producer Keith Stegall behind the boards, Jackson's stuck with the traditional fiddle-and-steel sound that's served him well.

The album begins with the irresistible swing of the Tom T. Hall-penned "Little Bitty," and its celebration of the common life is of a piece with Jackson's own modest and yet deeply affecting aesthetic. While the lyrical themes are varied, some of the best songs communicate the old-fashioned hard truths of honky-tonk heartbreak, particularly the poignant ballads "Everything I Love," co-written by Harley Allen and Carson Chamberlain, and Jackson's own "A House With No Curtains." Another highlight is the wry "Must've Had A Ball" (also written by Jackson), which successfully incorporates a Dixieland band into its understated honky-tonk swing.

Although it's become fashionable to indiscriminately dismiss the output of modern Nashville while touting various alternative-country acts as traditional country's true inheritors, it's the megastar Jackson that has perhaps most effectively revitalized the tradition by speaking for and to the working-class folk who gave birth to the music.