Angels and Alcohol album cover

Album Review: Alan Jackson–Angels and Alcohol

Rating: 9/10

Well, it has finally come–the long-awaited release of music on Fridays, and with this change, the release of arguably two of the most anticipated albums of 2015. Americana fans finally get Jason IsBell’s Something More Than Free (hopefully I will get time to review this later this week, but if not, it comes recommended), and for country fans, Alan Jackson’s Angels and Alcohol It should be noted that I like to avoid streaming albums ahead of time if at all possible, and so the first time I heard Alan Jackson’s album was when I purchased it at 6 A.M. Saturday, after two long days moving and about four hours of sleep. Having said that, this album hit me in one of the rare moments of silence I’ve had in the past week, and I’m glad to say it delivered.

The album opens with “You Can Always Come Home,” about a father telling his child to chase their dreams but to know they always have a place to come back to. The instrumentation in this song is great, with acoustic guitars and fiddles, and I found myself feeling an unintended double meaning in this song. Alan sings, “No matter how right or wrong you’ve gone, you can always come home.” After all the bro country and pop country and rock country and rap country and everything else disguised as country, this truly did feel like coming home. To have a mainstream album open with an acoustic guitar in 2015 is shocking, and in a good way. It was refreshing to say the least. The next song, “You Never Know” is a fun, upbeat song about finding love in strange places, and again the strength is the music. Here there was even a piano solo. I pay attention to lyrics more than music in songs as a rule, and the toll the false country has taken on lyrics has always hit me hardest, but this album made me really miss the country sound in a way I haven’t in a long time. I guess when you get used to hearing hip-hop and pop on country radio on a daily basis, you become immune to it.

The title track is my favorite–here the lyrics and instrumentation are both great. Alan sings, “You can’t mix angels and alcohol” and “I don’t think God meant for them to get along.” I won’t say anymore, just listen to it, it’s a great song. Next is “Gone Before You Met Me,” which describes a dream in which Alan meets Tom Sawyer and Jack Kerouac and has a nightmare about never meeting his wife. He wakes up to find her there and tells Tom and Jack to “ramble on without me.” It’s a song that potentially could do well on radio, and with the absence of George Strait, Alan might have a slightly better chance at airplay. “The One You’re Waiting On” is an excellent song told from the point of view of a man watching a woman across the room check her phone. She’s brushing men off and drinking wine while he speculates about whether the guy she’s waiting on is worth it. Next is the album’s lead single, “Jim and Jack and Hank,” an upbeat song about a man telling his girlfriend, as she’s leaving him, to go ahead because “I’ve got Jim and Jack and Hank.” He tells her, among other things, to “take your string bikkinis, your apple martinis” and “What’s left there in the bank.”

“I Leave a Light on” is a classic heartbreak song about leaving the light on for an ex’s memory. “Flaws” is the only flaw in the album–and it’s not a bad song, just doesn’t measure up to the rest. It tries to be too humorous and therefore loses the message a little, which is basically that no one is perfect. I honestly hated this song but the line “we’re all made with water, dirt, and grace” redeemed it somewhat. “When God Paints” follows this, wich also helps “Flaws,” because it acts as a second part to the story. It talks of the bigger picture and the amazing things that happen “when God paints.” Alan mentions that it’s not “always black-and-white or well-defined when God paints,” an excellent line. The album closes with “Mexico, Tequila, and Me” which is a song about exactly that. It’s the song that would sell on country radio, except that some bro country artist would sing it with hip-hop beats and bad rapping, whereas Alan keeps it country. So it probably won’t get airplay, but in a perfect world, it’s the kind of song that would. All in all, Angels and Alcohol is a great album, and in the absence of George Strait, Alan Jackson is our reigning country king. He has delivered, and I hope he will continue making refreshingly good country music.

Listen to album

9 thoughts on “Album Review: Alan Jackson–Angels and Alcohol

  1. So much wrong in this review. Either this is a case of Stockholm Syndrome, or that this is a joke article. Do you not know that Alan Jackson is the man who killed country music? He killed country music by dumbing it down (i.e., that stupid 9/11-exploiting song where he couldn’t tell the difference between Iraq and Iran) and living up to stereotypes (i.e., “It’s Alright to Be a Redneck”, “Where I Come From”, “Country Boy”). Also, not to mention that “Chattahoochee” is littered with bro-country buzzwords, so Alan Jackson pretty much invented bro-country. Additionally, he covered Wiz Khalifa’s “We Dem Boyz” and Akon’s “Don’t Matter” at his concerts. This guy is a danger to real country music, and arguably the biggest disgrace to country music in its entire history. Alan Jackson is truly the Nickelback of country music; it will be his fate to go down as the next Nickelback. He’s nothing but a corporate puppet/sellout, and trust me, he will not be remembered.

      1. Cora,
        I think it’s safe to say that Alan Jackson will be remembered if his recent induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame is any indication. As for “where Were You,” that song was, at least in my opinion, quite sincere in its efforts. If you want to talk about exploiting/pandering to stereotype following 9/11, a more accurate example would be Toby Keith. In addition. Alan Jackson built a career grounded in country, but I won’t waste your time detailing the countless songs supporting this viewpoint; rather, this is an attack on Alan Jackson’s contribution to and love for country music. I remind you that Alan Jackson walked out on the CMA Awards after performing “Choices” by George Jones in protest when the CMA wouldn’t allow Jones to sing the full version. It was Jackson who performed “Murder on Music row” with George Strait, and Jackson who recently walked out on the CMA performance of Beyoncé because he believed a pop artist shouldn’t be given such valuable time on a country award show. Lastly, by all means, come here and express your opinion, and by all means, disagree, I value dissent as much or more than agreement, but don’t insinuate that the honesty and care taken in one of my reviews is a joke. I have neither mocked nor discouraged your opinion, and I expect the same courtesy.

        1. On a side note, considering Alan Jackson killed country, “Murder on Music Row” is basically the country version of Key and Peele’s video Rap Album Confessions.

        2. Either way, Alan’s music strongly pandered to stereotypes, like “Where I Come From”, “Country Boy”, and especially “It’s Alright to Be a Redneck.” In the case of “Chattahoochee”, you can even say Alan Jackson was bro-country before it was cool. And let’s not forget when he covered Wiz Khalifa’s “We Dem Boyz” at his concerts.

          1. Leon,
            George is great. However, it was a mistake on his part collaborating with Alan Jackson. At least George didn’t make country music look ignorant, reinforce negative stereotypes, or cover Wiz Khalifa’s “We Dem Boyz” and Akon’s “Don’t Matter” at his concerts…

  2. Rain drop, drop top
    Alan Jackson turned country into pop
    And covered Wiz Khalifa and Young Joc
    #AlanJacksonKilledCountry

  3. 50 things I’d rather do than listen to than Alan Jackson’s “music”

    1. Get 100 mosquito bites
    2. Take up chainsaw juggling.
    3. Be mistaken for a pinata by small Mexican children
    4. Clean the windows of a skyscraper. (So. Many. Windows.)
    5. Write a five-page essay 10 minutes before class
    6. Have Lil Wayne’s voice
    7. Test Ginsu knives with Mrs. Bobbitt helping out.
    8. Go on a blind date with Joanna Dennehy
    9. Eat potatoes straight out of the oven
    10. Put on a new screen protector and realize there is lint stuck under it
    11. Eating pizza rolls before they cool and burning your mouth
    12. Have a squirrel throw an acorn at my head. (Ouch!)
    13. Listen to another tax commercial about delayed tax returns
    14. Be on a plane with a terrorist
    15. Pencil tip breaking every time you try to write something
    16. Making a sandwich with only the ends of the bread
    17. Have a Britney Spears 2007 level meltdown
    18. Food getting stuck in the vending machine
    19. Have Bill Cosby as my children’s preschool teacher
    20. Lick a hobo’s foot
    21. Arm wrestle the Hulk.
    22. Join a cult.
    23. Listen to a GSU student talk about how Armstrong is gone for 5 hours
    24. Teach a subject I know nothing about to high school students.
    25. Dissect a frog
    26. Wear only Crocs for the rest of my life.
    27. Have a paper cut under my finger nail.
    28. Act like Boris The Teeth Guy
    29. Drop my iPhone in the sewer.
    30. Have the seat belt come undone on a roller coaster.
    31. Go in for a minor surgery, but they instead remove a kidney.
    32. Do the dishes with soggy food on them.
    33. Never be able to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings ever again.
    34. Become blind.
    35. Paint my walls gray.
    36. Take 10 years to graduate with my undergraduate degree.
    37. Sit on spikes
    38. Delete my Pandora account
    39. Listen to Chris Brown explaining why he’s actually the victim.
    40. Saw off my sack (castration).
    41. “Welcome to Hell. Here is your ticket to ‘The Eternal Bill Engvall Comedy Show’. Step inside.”
    42. Listen to “She Cranks My Tractor”
    43. Be Hillary Clinton
    44. Be Gary Johnson
    45. Stub my toe
    46. Go to an Air Supply cover band with poor venue acoustics.
    47. Hearing twice-removed relatives having sex.
    48. Get lost in a city I don’t know.
    49. Live beside a long term nighttime construction job
    50. Read the Dictionary in full

    #AlanJacksonKIlledCountry

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