Picks and Pans Review: Here in the Real World
Here is a debut recording from an amiable-voiced country singer—songwriter that offers finger-popping tunes, sing-along lyrics, solid back-up help and a down-home feel that is both modest and big-hearted.
Leading off is the rambunctious "Ace of Hearts," the only song on this 10-track offering that Jackson did not have a writing hand in, followed by the wounded-but-wiser-now title number that better sets the tone for the rest of this admirable effort.
Jackson's style might best be described as retro-country. It doesn't pretend to offer anything fussier or fancier than tunefulness, tried and true balladry and an occasional hound-dog howl to spice up an ending or refrain.
While Jackson has neither the black-velvet vocalizing of Randy Travis nor the flashy Cadillac styling of Dwight Yoakam, he sings and plays (guitar) with a trueness to his material that gives the album an easy and enjoyable intimacy.
On "Chasin" That Neon Rainbow," Jackson shows off his keen ear for spunky, succinct lyrics with such lines as "Daddy won a radio/Turned it to a country show/I was rockin' in the cradle/To the cryin' of a steel guitar." Other stand-outs include the gently rocking "Short Sweet Ride" and the Hank Williams homage "She Don't Get the Blues," with its clever country-boy hook, "She don't get the blues, she gives 'em."
Taking his cue from the current return to roots movement in country music, Jackson has come up plain and simple with a winner. (Arista)