My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Alan Jackson – ‘Precious Memories, Volume II’

preciousmemoriesAlan Jackson’s 2006 collection of traditional hymns is, hands down, the best religious album I’ve ever heard, so the news that a follow-up collection was planned was welcome news indeed. Like its predecessor, Precious Memories, Volume II is a labor of love dedicated to Jackson’s mother, as well as his mother-in-law. Like most of Alan’s albums, it was produced by Keith Stegall.

Volume II follows the same basic template as Volume I, and the production is quiet, understated and quite effective. Acoustic guitar, piano, and autoharp are the main instruments used, along with some nice harmony vocals (none from any marquee names) which give the album an intimate and reverent tone. There are a few instances, however, such as “Love Lifted Me”, where just a little more oomph would have been welcome.

The problem with sequels is that they rarely measure up to the original project, and Precious Memories, Volume II is no exception. Although he takes the opportunity to include some glaring omissions from the first album — notably “Amazing Grace” and oddly, the title track — the material on Volume II isn’t quite up to the high standard set by the original. In an interview, Jackson revealed that when working on Volume I, he’d compiled a list of 30 to 40 songs, more than he could possibly use, and that’s exactly what Volume II sounds like at times — the leftover songs that weren’t quite good enough to make the cut the first time around.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some very good songs in this collection — “Amazing Grace”, “Precious Memories”, “There Is Power In The Blood”, and “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder” are all excellent. Others, with which I was admittedly not familiar — “He Lives”, “Just As I Am”, and “O How I Love Jesus” — I found a bit dull.

Judged on its own merits, Precious Memories, Volume II is a very good album. It doesn’t hold its own when compared to the first volume, but in all fairness, expecting it to do so is setting impossibly high standards. If you like traditional gospel music and enjoyed the original Precious Memories, then there is a place for the sequel in your collection.

Grade: B+

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