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Alan Jackson is a shy, modest man who safeguards his privacy.
Maybe that's why it's surprising to hear how much of himself he reveals on his ninth album, Drive. Writing or co-
writing three-quarters of the songs - the most original material he's contributed for an album in over a decade - Alan focuses on the three subjects perhaps dearest to him: love, family and cars.
The title cut rolls those topics together, as a fond memory of Alan's father teaching him to drive gives way to hopeful plans of teaching his three daughters to do the same, while "First Love" is a straight-ahead retelling of the true story of Alan's first car.
We also see Alan looking out at the world beyond his driveway in a couple of stirring numbers. The smash "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" lingers mournfully over the memory of Sept. 11, while the upbeat "That'd Be Alright" imagines the kind of perfect world where such horrors wouldn't happen.
Drive holds simpler pleasures as well: a duet with buddy George Strait on the self-explanatory "Designated Drinker," and hearing Alan uncover a near-perfect country song in Irene Kelley's wistful "A Little Bluer Than That."
But for the most part, his new album finds the singer in a reflective, soul-baring mood - Alan telling you about himself and his life, his loves and his worries. That's a Drive you'll want to take.