If you've been listening to country radio for any amount of time lately, and the occasional Kacey Musgraves and George Strait song just isn't satisfying your craving for some 'real' country music, Alan Jackson's new Angels and Alcohol album might just bring you a little satisfaction at long last.
Jackson has always been a stand-up, traditional singer. He's vowed to keep it country, and he holds to that vow again with this new effort. However, don't let the traditional nature of Jackson's music dissuade you from checking this album out because there's more variety on it than you might at first imagine.
For instance, “You Never Know,” a song about the surprising arrival of new love, mixes a little rockabilly with some western swing for an upbeat, fun song. Jackson also has a good sense of humor, which is best revealed with “Flaws.” On it, Jackson points out that there aren't any true 10's in the world, and we all have our shortcomings. “Jim And Jack And Hank” is also a lighthearted breakup song, where Jackson says that – although he doesn't have his girl anymore – he still has his favorite adult beverages and some wonderful country music to comfort him. “Mexico, Tequila, And Me” is a road song/drinking song about getting away from it all.
With that said, though, all the best country singers can also sing a sad song. With this album's title cut, Jackson says that the spiritual and alcoholic don't mix together well. As he puts it, God never intended these two elements to be used in any kind of cocktail. God also gets mentioned in “When God Paints,” a song about how God reveals himself to mankind.
The album's opening song, "You Can Always Come Home," is sort of a Prodigal Son song about how the door is always open at home, whether that be a son returning after a period of hard living or a lover returning to her love.
This new album is all the better, critically speaking, once you realize Jackson wrote most of its songs. He's truly underrated as s songwriter because these are really fine songs.
Pitting angels against alcohol is a time-tested country music tradition. Most country music is centered in and around the Bible belt, so the tug-o-war between drink and the divine has always been central to the genre. With this album, Jackson adds a few more essential chapters to his evolving book. If you already love Jackson and his music, this album will make you love him even more.