Alan Jackson – Thirty Miles West

by Chuck Dauphin

Alan Jackson has been a mainstay on the airwaves for well over two decades now. Sometimes, when an artist hits such a long period of making the charts time in and time out, there are definite peaks and valleys. So, sometimes one kind of shakes things up. Jackson is no different. After being with Arista since 1989, he signs with EMI – which was a big enough shake-up. But, in doing so, Jackson stepped up to the plate and has delivered his most musically varied album in quite some time.

The opener, “Gonna Come Back As A Country Song” is old-school Jackson that could have been on Here In The Real World or High Mileage. “Look Her In The Eye And Lie” has all the hooks of any of his past hits down pat, and very well could be the radio hit of the album. He collaborates with Zac Brown on the fun-filled “Dixie Highway,” and scores on what should be a single.

The most striking element of this album, however, is a Jackson hallmark – the songwriting. While he might have written only six of the thirteen cuts on the album, what he did pen stands as some of his strongest lyrical work in years. “Everything But The Wings” bristles with emotion, and the closer, “When I Saw You Leaving (For Nisey),” shows his gifts as a tunesmith as strong as ever. The latter, written about his wife’s recent successful battle with cancer, stands as one of this greatest works of all time.

At this stage in his career, Alan Jackson isn’t too worried about sales trends or airplay, but as an artist – you still want to be in the game. With Thirty Miles West, he ensures that he’s still going to be a player in the “game” for a while!

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