My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Alan Jackson – ‘Angels and Alcohol’

81S0JZvN9pL._SX522_After a pair of non-commercial albums that found him venturing into gospel and bluegrass, Angels and Alcohol, which was released last week, is both a return to form for Alan Jackson and his strongest collection since he parted ways with Arista Records five years ago.

Like the vast majority of Jackson’s catalog, Angels and Alcohol was produced by Keith Stegall. In many ways it is reminiscent of their best work from the 90s; there are no concessions to current trends and no attempts to chase radio hits. The current single, “Jim and Jack and Hank”, which I reviewed earlier this month, currently resides at #47 on the charts. Despite being a fun and catchy uptempo number, it’s unlikely to rise much higher in the current commercial environment.

Although I stand by the B+ rating I gave the single, I would not include it among one of my favorites from the album, because there are other more substantive songs which which a fluffy lightweight song simply cannot compete. With all due respect to Alan Jackson the songwriter, who penned seven of the album’s songs, my favorites are the three he didn’t write. Troy Jones’ and Greg Becker’s “When God Paints” is a beautiful ballad, with lyrics that are rich with imagery about life’s simple pleasures. Even better is “The One You’re Waiting On” by Adam Wright and Shannon Wright, which finds the protagonist sitting in a bar, admiring his love interest from afar, knowing that he doesn’t stand much of a chance but wondering exactly what she is holding out for. “Gone Before You Met Me”, an uptempo number by Michael White and Michael P. Heeney is about a free spirit who has long since settled down, and when he finds he is still rambling, is relieved to discover that it was only a dream. Country music needs more songs like this.

Jackson’s own compositions are nothing to sneeze at, either. The opening track “You Can Always Come Home” finds him reassuring a child who is about to leave the nest, and the title track is a beautiful ballad that is vintage Alan Jackson. It would have been a huge hit 20 years ago, and even ten years ago it might have been given a fair shot by radio. The closing track “Mexico, Tequila and Me” finds Jackson switching back to Jimmy Buffett mode, and is reminiscent of “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”.

I can’t find anything to complain about with this album. The current crop of singers who are doing their best to ruin country music (and largely succeeding), could learn a lot from Alan Jackson. There are no stretches or surprises here, just good old country music that will not leave Jackson’s fans disappointed. Sometimes that’s enough.

Grade: A

22 responses to “Album Review: Alan Jackson – ‘Angels and Alcohol’

  1. Paul W Dennis July 23, 2015 at 6:28 am

    Very good album, although not his best. I’m guessing that radio will give short-shrift to this album but that’s their loss. I do feel that ten tracks is a bit of a short change but I’d rather have ten good songs than seventy-five minutes worth of garbage as is so often the case


  2. Luckyoldsun July 23, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    I thought it a bit funny that the prototypical possessions of Jackson’s soon-to-be-ex lover in “Jim and Jack and Hank” include Louis Vuitton bags and a “black Mercedes.”
    Give him points for honesty even if the imagery is not exactly country!

    • Cora May 4, 2017 at 8:27 am

      The imagery is not exactly country? Well, neither is his “music” (if you choose to call it that), seeing as he killed country, dumbed it down (i.e., that stupid 9/11-exploiting song where he couldn’t tell the difference between Iraq and Iran), lived up to negative country stereotypes (i.e., “It’s Alright to Be a Redneck”, “Where I Come From”, “Country Boy”), and practically invented bro-country (“Chattahoochee”). Not to mention, he covered Wiz Khalifa’s “We Dem Boyz” and Akon’s “Don’t Matter” at his concerts. To anyone with even a remote understanding of what real country is, Alan Jackson’s career has a been a utter trainwreck and a total disgrace to the rich tradition of country music. Alan Jackson is to country music what Taco Bell is to fine Italian dining. Enough said.

      • Luckyoldsun May 5, 2017 at 2:57 am

        Interesting take. I, too, thought “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” was overpraised. If Jackson’s music has a fault, in my view, it’s that he’ll often stick to the safe and banal rather than address issues where expressing any sort of opinion might offend someone. I don’t expect every artist to be Johnny Cash, but sometimes Jackson just seems to be holding back. But Jackson has also written some very good songs that are rich with imagery and smart phrasing. “Chattahoochie” is certainly one such!
        I get the distinct feeling that you’re actually something of an AJ fan and your over-the-top vituperation here is intended to get a rise out of people, as much as anything. That’s fine. I’ve never heard of “We Dem Boyz” or “Don’t Matter”–either in Jackson’s hands or the original versions. I’ll have to try to Google/You Tube them. I hope AJ did a good–or interesting–job on them!

      • Razor X May 5, 2017 at 10:29 am

        “Enough said.”

        On that point we are in agreement. Please do not spam us with any more variations of your ridiculous rant or we will be forced to delete your comments.

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  4. Cora May 4, 2017 at 8:23 am

    How could you give this piece of trash an A grade? The best assumption is that this is a case of Stockholm Syndrome. Do you not know that Alan Jackson is the man who killed country music? He killed country music by dumbing it down (i.e., that stupid 9/11-exploiting song where he couldn’t tell the difference between Iraq and Iran) and living up to stereotypes (i.e., “It’s Alright to Be a Redneck”, “Where I Come From”, “Country Boy”). Also, not to mention that “Chattahoochee” is littered with bro-country buzzwords, so Alan Jackson pretty much invented bro-country. Additionally, he covered Wiz Khalifa’s “We Dem Boyz” and Akon’s “Don’t Matter” at his concerts. This guy is a danger to real country music, and arguably the biggest disgrace to country music in its entire history. Alan Jackson is truly the Nickelback of country music; it will be his fate to go down as the next Nickelback. He’s nothing but a corporate puppet/sellout, and trust me, he will not be remembered. Alan’s “music” is nothing but corporate manufactured drivel, recorded and released solely for the purpose of desecrating country music and its rich history. Hank Sr.’s ghost would strangle him like how Homer strangled Bart in the Simpsons. If Alan Jackson is real country, then I’m the President of the United States. Enough said.

    • Razor X May 4, 2017 at 9:01 am

      Yes, I did know because you posted the exact same comments over at Saving Country Music.

      • Cora May 4, 2017 at 12:31 pm

        I’m trying to make a point here. This Alan Jackson idiot is why so many people hate country music. He deserves to reviled in the same light as Luke Bryan and Sam Hunt.

        • Razor X May 4, 2017 at 2:50 pm

          Oh, you are making a point but it’s probably not the one you intended to make.

    • Paul W Dennis May 4, 2017 at 8:05 pm

      Are you for real ?
      Bro Country buzzwords ?

      You could accuse Hank Williams Sr, Jimmie Rodgers and Ernest Tubb of that

      Okay , so you don’t like Alan Jackson – he probably would not like you either. Your post is, by far, the dumbest thing I’ve seen posted here

      • Cora May 4, 2017 at 11:29 pm

        Hank Williams would have strangled Alan Jackson for killing country music like how Homer strangled Bart in the Simpsons. Still, Alan Jackson dumbed country music down (i.e., that stupid 9/11-exploiting song where he couldn’t tell the difference between Iraq and Iran) and lived up to stereotypes (i.e., “It’s Alright to Be a Redneck”, “Where I Come From”, “Country Boy”). And lets not forget when he covered Wiz Khalifa’s “We Dem Boyz” and Akon’s “Don’t Matter” at his concerts.

        • Paul W Dennis May 5, 2017 at 12:28 am

          Paul Simon wrote a song about you – he titied it “One Trick Pony”

        • Ken May 5, 2017 at 10:07 am

          With ALL of the lame acts that have hijacked country music in the 21st century you single out Alan Jackson? Really? The one guy that continues to be one of the last bastions of what can honestly be considered REAL country music? Wow.

          Hank Williams would likely be proud of Alan’s contributions to the genre. Probably much more so than his idiot son’s ridiculous hard rock redneck anthems. Any artist that records for an extended period of time will have some peaks and valleys in their discography. But Alan’s lesser offerings beat anything on the charts today.

          “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning” was an absolute masterpiece. That you cannot hear that demonstrates how little you know about music and making an emotional connection with listeners. The night he premiered that song on the CMA Awards Show was one of the most amazing and emotional moments in country music history. It’s one that I and most others that saw it will never forget. The fact that you and the resident oddball on this site are in agreement on that song does not bode well for you.

  5. Luckyoldsun May 5, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I still remember when you said you’ve lost all respect for Alan Jackson because he used the term “S.O.B.” in a song. Not even the phrase that it stands for–just the letters “S.O.B”!–and it was in reference to himself! lol.

    • Ken May 5, 2017 at 6:09 pm

      That definitely was not his best moment.

      • Luckyoldsun May 6, 2017 at 5:20 pm

        Actually, I thought the song “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” WAS one of Jackson’s best moments. So did critics like Juli Thanki, then of Engine 145, as well as reviewers for Taste of Country, Country Universe, etc. To each his own!

        • Ken May 6, 2017 at 8:03 pm

          Considering the song did not become a hit (it died at #25 in Billboard) it appears that those opinions were not shared by most listeners. Hard to qualify for a truly “best moment” with a song that is not very popular.

        • Luckyoldsun May 9, 2017 at 7:44 pm

          “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” “died” at #25 because by the time it was issued, in 2012, country radio was in the process of kicking out the last of the “traditional” ’90s acts (Jackson, Strait and even Toby Keith). Only the slightly younger–and more youth-oriented–McGraw and Chesney survived that purge. It had nothing to do with the quality of the record, which was “vintage” Jackson. Jackson never had another top-40 hit after that record.
          Funny that you’ll us popularity on “Bro Country” radio as a gauge of quality, when it suits your “purpose.”

      • Ken May 9, 2017 at 9:10 pm

        If the song was as good as you say it should have been a hit. Unlike songs by many veteran acts radio gave THAT song quite a bit of airplay. It was on the Billboard chart for almost six months yet the best it could do was #25! A song that receives significant spins for that length of time yet fails to win a substantial constituency speaks for itself.

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