Alan Jackson – “It’s Just That Way”

Karlie Justus Marlowe | January 13th, 2010

alan-jackson-its-just-that-waySongwriters: 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.

Thumbs Up

  1. Jon G.
    January 13, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Good song. I love a good AJacks tune. I’m sure if it will be a successful single, though.

    Of course, when I write “successful,” I mean in comparison to other Alan Jackson singles.

    And, personally, I’ve liked some of his recent singles. Good Time was easily the most fun song on the radio at that time, Sissy’s Song was very well-done, and Small Town Southern Man is one of my all-time favorite AJ songs.

    That said, I could leave Country Boy and Bologna alone.

  2. Jon G.
    January 13, 2010 at 9:44 am

    “I’m sure if it will be a successful single, though.”

    I’m *not* sure, and for the same reasons in the review.

  3. Shannon
    January 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Alan Jackson is hit or miss with me. This one’s alright — might listen to it every other time I hear it on the radio.

  4. Matt B.
    January 13, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    I pretty much agree with your assessment of the song.

    Here’s the songwriters if you’re interested in that info:
    Written by Keith Stegall, Vicky McGehee & Kylie Sakley

  5. Matt B.
    January 13, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Oops that should be Written by Keith Stegall, Vicky McGehee & Kylie Sackley.

  6. Karlie Justus
    January 13, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Thanks Matt!

  7. Matt B.
    January 13, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    You’re welcome. Billboard helped me out w/this one. Stegall’s production is spot-on as always.

  8. Noeller
    January 13, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    AJ is the reason I got into Country music in the first place, and his “Under The Influence” was my gateway drug into the legends. I’ll always have a soft spot for most things he does, but was critical of a lot of the “Good Time” disc, for sure. This single is a little more thought out, and while not every song can be a world changer, and certainly there is room for the party songs, it’s nice to have something that makes you stop and think and know that the world’s not so bad afterall.

  9. Steve M.
    January 13, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Nice. If it wasn’t for Alan Jackson and George Strait, the steel guitar would disappear for what masquerades as country radio nowadays. Reminds me of the late 70s, musically.

  10. Rick
    January 13, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I think its time for the long career, neo-traditional, legacy artists like Alan Jackson and George Strait to pack it in and leave the mainstream country market to the young pop/rock types. That way the Top 40 Contemporary Country market could move entirely into the pop-rock realm where it belongs and maybe a “real country” based format could be resurrected! What a pipe dream that is….

    PS – Artists like Alan and George always make me ponder “How many times can a country artist re-make essentially the same album, and how many times will their dedicated fans purchase it?” Hmm….

  11. Janelle
    January 13, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Steve M. (and anyone else lookin’ for some real country sounds) — check out Jamey Johnson’s “That Lonesome Song” album! It is heavy on the sweet sounds of steel guitar – played by the super talented Cowboy Eddie Long!

  12. Steve M.
    January 13, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Oh I have Jamey Johnson’s album and play the hell out of it. But his lack of success on getting played on the radio is another depressing reminder that most of today’s country music has more to do with N’Sync and New Kids on the Block then with Hank Williams and Patsy Cline.

  13. Josh
    January 14, 2010 at 10:12 am

    This is without a doubt a welcoming addition to my ever expanding song collection. :) Hats off to AJ for keeping it simple and I also agree with the 70s feel on this one. Whenever I want to tackle a complex riff (i.e. KU or BP style), I always stop what I’m doing and realize that AJ and GS create just as beautiful melodies as good as anyone.

  14. Janelle
    January 14, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Amen, Steve M….well put! And I completely agree!

  15. waynoe
    January 15, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Although I like Alan, this song will have a harder time being successful as many songs given recommendations here on this sight usually fair poorly in the market.

    Steve M – you posted a good comment. Hey, I used to play steel so let’s hear it for the 10-string lovers.

  16. Wade
    February 5, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I like how Alan still makes these kind of songs.. Its not my favorite, but i like it.

  17. Barry
    February 7, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    It’s a nice song, but I don’t think it will set the world on fire.

    Alan Jackson is one of my top 2 favorite country artists and I thought his last CD was one of his best and the singles released were good ‘ol Jackson tunes back in the earlier days. That’s what I want more of.

  18. D Dun
    March 14, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Won’t buy it unless its on an album with Sissy’s song.

  19. Chris N.
    March 14, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    That’s gonna be a tough one, as “Sissy’s Song” was on the last record.

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