Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
The title indicates traditionalist Alan Jackson is moving forward. While it's not clear how fast Jackson is moving forward, he certainly keeps moving in the right direction. This is pretty much meat and potatoes Jackson. Now, while that may sound to be less than complimentary, in the case of Jackson, there's a lot to be said for that. First off, he has a distinctive, sweet voice. George Jones, of course, continues to be an influence (True Love is a Golden Ring
and a fine duet with Lee Ann Womack on Vern Gosdin's hit, Till the End
Then, there is the material, which is top shelf from through song 1 through 12. Jackson wrote 7 songs this, but at least he chose material that matches his style quite well - from the Fred Eaglesmith title track to the sad Tailights Blue. (at least there's a Jackson connection - his nephew Adam Wright co-wrote it) here is a bit of a change here and an appropriate one at that. Jackson has been through his marital trials and tribulations for sure, and here he seems comfortable looking back with the closing The Best Keeps Getting Better. He also is father to three girls and addresses the idea of a father looking at his daughters growing up (After Seventeen) - it's relatable and real without being saccharine. Jackson always has championed the hard working man and does at the start (Hard Hat and a Hammer). Unlike his contemporaries, he doesn't brag about the south as if that's the only place where people work hard for their dollar - he speaks for all those hard working men ("and women" as he says at song's close) everywhere.
Jackson may not be moving at the speed of a freight train - he never has and never will because he eschews the country gone pop mindset of his peers, where louder somewhat equals better (thanks once again producer Keith Stegall) - but no worries. It's what's on board that matter. Jackson carries this load of nuggets just fine.