April 17, 2008

Test Spin: Alan Jackson

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The title track of Alan Jackson’s most recent album, Good Time, delivers exactly what it promises. Yes, it’s country music. Shut up. This is upstate New York. Get with it.
“Good Time” blares through the speakers with plenty of mid-tempo honky-tonk sass and a less-than-subtle nod to Brooks and Dunn’s early ’90s line dance classic “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.” And with that, all fears of another slump of a release from the ’90s neo-traditionalist giant disappear. Not since 2002’s Drive has Jackson been this true to form.
The clincher is that Jackson finally boasts complete songwriting credits, having penned and arranged all 17 sprawling tracks — uncommon in the genre. Radio staple “Small Town Southern Man” fits neatly next to the Georgian’s long line of hits, with a hooky chorus, raw fiddles and plenty of pedal steel. Other songs branch out stylistically, evoking George Jones (“I Still Like Bologna,”) Brad Paisley (“Long Long Way”), and even Jimmy Buffett (“Laid Back ’n Low Key”).
Is it troubling that Jackson has slightly eschewed his “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” days to sound more like his modern contemporaries? The strong set on Good Time disagrees, and still sounds more “real country” than the last Kenny Chesney album did.