Who I Am

by: Alan Jackson

By 1994, Alan Jackson may not have scored as many hit singles, but he definitely began to set himself apart from the onslaught of young country hat bands. First, there are 13 tracks on this set -- three more than usually appear on country records because labels don't want to pay for more than that. Second, Jackson showed he had cojones by opening his album with Eddie Cochran's rockabilly classic "Summertime Blues," a song as associated with the Who as it is with Cochran. But Jackson shows the 'billy side of the equation while delivering both humor and soul in his reading. "Living on Love," an original, is a mid-tempo honky tonker with killer fiddle, telecasters chopping up the middle, and lyrics that make its sentimental subject matter palatable. "Gone Country," by Bob McDill, is an anti-new country anthem accusing a whole lot of folks of coming into the game for the cash. Jackson is the real hillbilly article, so he can sing that song -- and so is the writer, but it's most effective when looking at some of Alan's peers. But it's on Harley Allen's "Who I Am," a mid-tempo two-step barroom love song where the pedal steels whine and the fiddles cascade with their high lonesome song in the bridge, that Jackson's at his best. He sings with a sincerity that turns sarcasm on its head. The same is true on Rodney Crowell's "Song for the Life." In a version that rivals Crowell's own, Jackson's balladry in three-forths time is heartbreakingly beautiful. And then there's Jackson's own songs like "Job Description," which comes right from the Merle Haggard side of the Bakersfield side of honky tonk, and the same goes for "Let's Get Back to You and Me," which is every bit as tough as Dwight Yoakam with a guitar solo to match. This is where Buck Owens and Ernest Tubb meet Johnny Burnette and George Jones. What a way to end a record. This is solid from top to bottom and one of Jackson's strongest outings. ~ Thom Jurek

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.