Alan Jackson – “It’s Just That Way”
Songwriters: Keith Stegall, Vicky McGehee and Kylie Sackley
Alan Jackson is often cited as a sure-fire future Hall of Famer who favors torn, ripped-up blue jeans, speaks in a slow, quiet drawl and shies away from any spotlight not beaming down on him in front of crowds of screaming fans.
He’s just that way.
Likewise, his new single “It’s Just That Way” is pure Jackson, albeit more mature and understated than the last few singles in his discography. Without any silly attempts at gee-whiz humor, awkward sexual innuendo or catchy words to spell out, he’s able to focus on the matter at hand: Familiar, effortless country music underscored by simple lyrics and delivery.
A cross between the laid-back sound of songs like “Had It Not Been You” on the critically acclaimed Like Red on a Rose and thematically similar commercial success “Song for the Life,” the tune centers around simple, sure-fire pastoral images that reflect a rock-solid relationship: ”That ole sun comes up every mornin’/And goes back down at the end of every day/It’s just that way/Stars show up every evenin’/Man in the moon comes out to play/It’s just that way.”
Although Jackson is in no rush, there are brief instances of intensity. Addressing his lover, his emphasis on the two-line chorus contrasts with the song’s easy-going feel, showing there’s something below his matter-of-fact surface. Instrumentally, “It’s Just That Way” stays out of the singer’s way, save for the natural steel guitar and piano notes that float throughout the song.
Still, with its slow-tempo and satisfied resignation, “It’s Just That Way” flirts with becoming plodding, especially when compared to the upbeat fare that populates most of country radio. There is nothing particularly ground breaking or surprising in its execution, except for the abrupt yet beautiful closing harmonies between Jackson, his background vocalist and the steel guitar.
The tune, scheduled to be on Jackson’s fourteenth studio album due in the spring, marks a welcome return to the artist that created Precious Memories and Like Red on a Rose. It’s comforting to know that the sun always sets, the tide goes in and out and Alan Jackson can still turn out quality country music.
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