Alan Jackson

Everything I Love

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It's hard not to think of the title of Alan Jackson's fifth album, 1996's Everything I Love, as a reference to the music he makes, since it is so deeply felt and so deeply rooted in country tradition. Everything I Love is no exception to the rule, but there's a wry sardonic streak to the title track here, where everything Jackson loves -- "cigarettes, Jack Daniels, and caffeine" -- is killing him. It's a classic country sentiment on an album that feels like a classic country album to its bone, from that barroom weeper to the sly novelty of "Buicks to the Moon," the swaggering cheating song "Who's Cheatin' Who," and the terrific cover of Tom T. Hall's "Little Bitty," which tips its hat to the past without being overly reverential. And that's one of the keys to the success of Everything I Love. It is surely rooted in the past, and although a bit of post-Garth bombast may be present when Jackson touches on the anthemic sounds of modern country on "Between the Devil and Me," he still gives it true country spin and heart. Plus, that's balanced by the laid-back Bakersfield shuffle of "There Goes," the Western swing of "Must've Had a Ball" (complete with horns and clarinet), and the classic honky tonk ballad "A House with No Curtains" -- a co-written original from Jackson that's worthy of early George Jones -- all of which gives this album diversity, highlighting several eras of classic country, all the eras that Jackson loves. But the appealing thing about Everything I Love is the ease of Jackson's writing and delivery -- he makes it all seem natural, and it's an album to savor because of that.

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