Thirty Miles West – Alan Jackson

I’ve got a lot of respect for Alan Jackson. He knocks out an album a year, which is one thing. Sure, they all sound pretty much alike, but the quality control is extraordinary. And sure, it’s a bit, er, rich for a millionaire to be singing songs about the dignity of working in a hard hat, but I don’t doubt his sincerity. He knows his audience.

So it’s the usual mixture of ballads and jukebox friendly country rock, and there’s the de rigeur song about cancer, but there’s nothing wrong any of that. The sounds are beautifully produced and Jackson is a steadfast holdout in the Loudness Wars. His records sound great when played loud, and you get to use your, you know, volume control.

Thirty Miles West features 13 songs, some written by Jackson, and some by songwriting teams. Previously released singles “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” and “Long Way to Go” stand out, as do “You Go Your Way” and the song he wrote when his wife was being treated for cancer.

Takes its place in the playlist with its commitment and honesty, and always lifts with its fine musicianship.

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