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** 1/2 ALAN JACKSON "When Somebody Loves You" Arista Nashville

November 05, 2000|RANDY LEWIS

For his 10th album, the tradition-loving singer and songwriter turns in what's practically a mission statement in defense of the last non-sacred cow on the American landscape: the good ol' boy.

Jackson champions the unapologetically unadventurous guy in "Meat & Potato Man," "Where I Come From" and the self-explanatory "It's Alright to Be a Redneck." Does that make him securely true to himself or brazenly backward? That's the kind of question that Jackson, with his John Wayne-like self-assuredness, refuses to ask.

Additionally, as he outlines it in the catchy, album-closing "Three Minute, Positive, Not Too Country Uptempo Love Song," there's nary a discouraging word about life or love here, and country music without pain is like a backyard pool minus the water--nothing the thinking person would want to dive into.

Lightweight and country-radio friendly as most of it is, Jackson musters one truly evocative, late-night-at-the-bar scene sketch in "Maybe I Should Stay Here" that benefits further from his just-right, two-sheets-to-the-wind delivery. The elasticity he brings to "Life or Love" is another exceptional vocal turn.


Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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