Black Music Matters Festival

Alan Jackson

Under The Influence – 1999 (Arista)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

Alan Jackson would seem to be an unlikely candidate for an influences albumin that he's been doing covers all along, even having hits with some. Given Jackson's track record you expect him to pick quality songs and to sing them well, and that's exactly what you get. It's maybe a little too exact, however.

Most choices are, if not obvious songs, at least big hits by obvious artists. Jackson doesn't change them a whole lot, so if you have some favorites going in, such as the Gene Watson classic "Farewell Party" or John Anderson's "She Just Started Liking Cheatin' Songs," chances are very good you'll have the same favorites coming out. The one really adventurous choice, Hank Williams Jr.'s "The Blues Man," is a nice enough tune, but so slow and so looong that it mucks up the pacing of the album (which is already pretty heavy in ballads, the thing Jackson does best.) It would have been nice to hear an influences album on which Jackson stretched himself out more, but then that really isn't what Jackson is all about.