Jackson's gone bluegrass
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
– He's gone bluegrass. That's the news from traditional country singer Alan Jackson, who once eschewed those who tried to cash in on country music.
"The Bluegrass Album" will be released Sept. 24 on Jackson's ACR label, distributed by EMI Records Nashville. Eight of the tracks are Jackson originals, along with covers of The Dillards' There Is A Time, John Anderson's Wild And Blue and a slow, 3/4 time version of Blue Moon Of Kentucky.
When he brought Alison Krauss in to produce his 2006 project, "Like Red On A Rose," some thought Jackson might veer towards bluegrass, but the disc stayed in the country realm.
This year, though, Jackson assembled an all-star cast of bluegrass pickers and singers in April, and tracked a new all-acoustic record at The Castle outside of Nashville. Sammy Shelor on banjo, Adam Steffey on mandolin, Tim Crouch on fiddle, Tim Dishman on bass, Rob Ickes on reso-guitar, and Scott Coney on guitar all participated. Ronnie Bowman and Don Rigsby were on hand to provide harmony vocals, with Keith Stegall and Adam Wright (he is Jackson's nephew and one-half of The Wrights with his wife, Shannon) producing.
Shelor said that they tracked all the rhythms and most of the vocals in five sessions over two days. The band sat in a circle with half dividers between them so that everyone could see each other, with Jackson and the backup singers tracking live with the band. "The most we did on any song was three takes; we got most of them the first time. We worked from charts, but Alan knew what he wanted on every song before we started," said Shelor in a story posted on Jackson's web site.
Coney also plays guitar, fiddle and banjo in Jackson's country band.
Jackson told Coney to put a band together for this record, but that he didn't want it to 'sound like all the other bluegrass albums country artists cut in this town.'"
"Alan's voice lends itself perfectly to bluegrass, in my opinion. If you like Ronnie Bowman or Marty Raybon singing bluegrass, you'll love Alan Jackson doing it," Shelor said.
"I'm extremely blessed and happy to be a part of this project. It's a great bluegrass record, and its Alan Jackson singing. What more could you ask?"
Current plans suggest that Jackson will do some television and selected live shows to promote "The Bluegrass Album" around the release date, with a likelihood of further touring to follow. They hope to hit a number of major bluegrass festivals next year as well, using the same musicians who appear on the album.
Songs on the disc are:
1.) Long Hard Road - Alan Jackson
2.) Mary - Jackson
3.) Appalachian Mountain Girl - Jackson
4.) Tie Me Down - Alan Jackson
5.) Way Beyond The Blue - Mark D. Sanders/Randy Albright/Lisa Silver
6.) Ain't Got Trouble Now - Adam Wright
7.) Blue Ridge Mountain Song - Alan Jackson
8.) Blacktop - Alan Jackson
9.) Blue Side of Heaven - Alan Jackson
10.) There Is A Time - Rodney Dillard/Mitch Jayne
11.) Wild and Blue - John Scott Sherrill
12.) Knew All Along - Adam Wright/Shannon Wright
13.) Let's Get Back to Me and You - Alan Jackson
14.) Blue Moon of Kentucky - Bill Monroe
More news for Alan Jackson
CD reviews for Alan Jackson
Genuine: The Alan Jackson Story
Howdy Skies Records
Reviewed by Donald Teplyske
It is difficult to tally exactly how many albums of new material Tim O'Brien has released since first appearing as part of Hot Rize, the venerable bluegrass band experiencing a well-received resurgence. More than 20 by any count, 30-plus when one considers solo, duet and group offerings, including his most recent success as part of the Earls of Leicester.
Aside from a brief flirtation with the »»»
Angels and Alcohol
Alan Jackson, circa 2015, now might be, unfortunately, considered a retro artist. Jackson, thankfully, does not veer from his traditional country beat on his first new studio disc in three years. It's the traditional sound that makes him a throwback today.
In an age of rock and rap meshing with country, Jackson will have none of that on this meat-and-potatoes rendering. Jackson's viewpoint has always been about the simple truths of life. He makes that clear in the leadoff track, »»»
The Bluegrass Album
Alan Jackson makes his statement crystal clear with the title - "The Bluegrass Album." The traditional country singer has "gone bluegrass," although the idea of a bluegrass disc should not come off as all that far fetched. Yes, there's no pedal steel here, but the sounds, subject and voice are not very different from a typical AJ disc.
And this is not the first time that Jackson has veered off the straight and narrow path as his gospel albums indicated. »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk
When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: The Cadillac Three, Sellers do it their own way
The way The Cadillac Three lead singer Jaren Johnston told it, the band could have had their choice of opening tours this year for the likes of Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley and Jake Owen. No go though because the long-haired singer fronting the rough-and-most-definitely ready trio said the band wanted to do it their own way.
Based on this most... »»»
Concert Review: Great songs, not glitz, highlight Lynn tribute
An eclectic group of Americana artists gathered together for a relatively low-key tribute to Loretta Lynn on the eve of the glitzy Grammy Awards. In contrast to the expensive dresses and song sets displayed at Staples Center for the awards show TV broadcast, these performers were backed by a skillful traditional country music house band.... »»»
Country News Digest
Elsewhere in the news
Currently at the CST blogs
For nearly a decade and a half, The Devil Makes Three has concocted an amazing blend of bluegrass, folk, country, blues, rockabilly and whatever happens to bubble to the surface, and applied it liberally to their songwriting ethic.... »»»
Mercy Rose Isbell recently celebrated her first birthday and, ironically, the album she helped inspire has just been released. Synchronicity is a beautiful thing. Mercy Rose is, of course, the daughter of singer/songwriters Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, two of the most gifted Americana artists working today...
Something old is new again. The Earls of Leicester, fresh from their first release in late 2014 and the IBMA Entertainer of the Year Award for 2015, followed that remarkable success with "Rattle and Roar."... »»»
Independent singer/songwriter Aaron Watson's "Vaquero" is an ambitious 16-song mix of Texas country and mainstream Nashville with mostly good results. The strongest tracks are those that embrace the Tex Mex style of the title track, which imparts some sound advice delivered by an "old Mexican cowboy" the singer meets in a bar ("don't live your life like a sad country song/ A fool on a stool still a fool right or wrong"). »»»
Old 97s' "Graveyard Whistling" is a slight return to form after 2014's "Most Messed Up," which was heavy on profanity, but far too light on charming country songs. "Graveyard Whistling" is a little more innocent and a lot more fun than its predecessor. "Bad Luck Charm," for instance, finds lead vocalist Rhett Miller playing a familiar role - that of lovable loser. »»»
Rhiannon Gidden's "Freedom Highway" takes an expansive look at the Black experience in America. "Better Get It Right the First Time" utilizes a gospel-y call and response format to tell the tragic story of a Black life that mattered. However, Giddens goes all the way back to slavery days for the lyrics to "At the Purchaser's Option." »»»
Notes of Blue
Son Volt's "Notes of Blue" is said to be influenced by the blues (among other musical styles), and the blues is most at the fore during "Cherokee St.," a stomping, electric guitar-driven blues rocker. The song has the stripped-down sound of a Blind Willie Johnson sermon, although lead vocalist Jay Farrar is by no means the gravelly singer Johnson was. »»»
In the Ground
The family band is a longstanding conceit of bluegrass and mountain music, including the Carters, the Osbornes, the McReynolds, the Whites, The Stanleys and even the progenitors of bluegrass Bill and Charlie Monroe. The trope continues to the present with The Gibson Brothers carrying on this tradition admirably. »»»
Brett Young had a hit out of the box with "Sleep Without You," as ear candy of a song. His soulful vocals carry the percolating song that seemed designed with airplay in mind. If Young were a band, this is the type of song that Rascal Flatts might cover. In fact, the airplay bent could be said of most of the dozen songs on the Californian's major label debut after five indie releases. »»»