Black Music Matters Festival

Alan Jackson

Precious Memories Vol. II – 2013 (EMI Nashville)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

See it on Amazon

There's nothing more pathetic than watching a country performer sweat bullets on television while performing a gospel song, seemingly to try and prove - with all this overt effort - they truly believe what they're singing about. You won't get that impression from Alan Jackson, at least not from his second collection of hymns, "Precious Memories: Vol. II." Even during There Is Power in the Blood, a song that could easily have gotten revved up beyond control, the guitar and piano solos are skillful, yet restrained.

Jackson chooses to perform his hymns the way he must surely remember them from childhood Sunday services. Some of these are so powerful; they don't require any music business polish to make them hit their marks. Just As I Am, with its positive association with Billy Graham crusades over the years, is the ultimate Altar Call song, and Jackson sings it as though the pastor has asked him to provide the music at the end of Sunday service.

While there are many gospel songs that are nearly requirements on albums such as this one, including Amazing Grace and Precious Memories, Jackson also gives us Love Lifted Me and Only Trust Him, which might only be thoroughly familiar to lifetime Baptists.

Jackson respects these songs the way a man loves his mamma, and it shows throughout this subdued, but enjoyable, collection. These memories are, indeed, precious to Jackson. For those of us that share Jackson's religious upbringing, "Precious Memories: Vol. II" is a wonderful walk down memory lane. You'll probably like it, too, even if you've never traveled that path before.