What I Do
After 14 years, 14 albums and 31 No. 1 hits, Alan Jackson, 45, continues to sound more and more like Merle Haggard, which is tantamount to approaching perfection. Neither Jackson nor anyone else, of course, has Haggard's mellow, laser-true voice. But Jackson's own pipes are deepening with age, acquiring body like wine in a fine barrel. The 2003 CMA Entertainer of the Year has also learned, as Haggard did, to vary his material, from warm and romantic to playful and macho. This excellent disc offers a characteristically rewarding mix. Jackson wrote the appealing love song "Too Much of a Good Thing" and "If French Fries Were Fat Free," a clever ditty about wishful thinking ("If French fries were fat free and you still loved me/What a wonderful world this would be"). The singer also composed "USA Today," the best periodical tribute since Kinky Friedman's "The People Who Read People Magazine." Meanwhile, the imaginative rap "The Talkin' Song Repair Blues" recalls the great Western swing-talk singer Tex Williams. A composer advises his songwriting mechanic, "I know you've been using a cut-rate thesaurus/'Cause your adverbs have backed up into your chorus/Now your verse is runnin' on verbs that are way too weak." And the sentimental title song is a kind of mission statement that will probably serve as Jackson's concert finale for years. Jackson has another Haggardian trait-he's good at choosing his backup musicians. What I Do includes noteworthy support from guitarist Brent Mason and steel guitarist Paul Franklin, rounding out a CD of rare accomplishment.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "The Talkin' Song Repair Blues"