Thirty Miles West by Alan Jackson

This is Alan’s 17th studio effort, but his first as a recording artist for ACR/EMI Records Nashville, after recording for two decades for Arista Nashville. His label home may have changed, but his everyman approach to songwriting holds steady.

Far from sounding threadbare or rickety, Alan’s vocal on the infectious “Dixie Highway” is buoyant, especially when surrounded by bluegrass-tinged harmonies from fellow Georgians the Zac Brown Band, zippy ivory tickling and homegrown lyrics about butter beans, tomato gardens, working six days and taking a rest.

In the piano-led ballad “She Don’t Get High,” he likens his love to a drug that used to captivate his beloved. “Nothin’ Fancy” celebrates a genuine love unencumbered by materialistic trappings or flowery gestures of affection. Alan is often at his best as a songwriter when he is at his most transparent—think “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” and “I’ll Go On Loving You.” The album’s closing track, “When I Saw You Leaving (For Nicey),” details Alan’s emotions surrounding his wife Denise’s recent battle with cancer, in a manner both tender and revealing.

Alan has more than proven his mettle as an ace solo singer/songwriter during his career, so “Dixie Highway” does leave one longing for more collaborations.

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