Album Review: Alan Jackson – Good Time

Adam Tamburin | March 20th, 2008

Alan Jackson - Good Time In 71 minutes, Alan Jackson’s latest album, Good Time, takes us back four years, to the last batch of his traditional variety of country music, What I Do. It’s good to have him back.

That’s not to say the years since 2004 have been fruitless. Precious Memories, a sentimental collection of hymns, and Like Red on a Rose, a testament to his artistic vitality, were refreshing risks that established Jackson as a singer who isn’t afraid of the road less traveled.

All the same, Jackson is at his best wooing radio programmers with his patented blend of sly Southern humor and an almost-too-earnest aw-shucks attitude. Good Time, Jackson’s fifteenth solo album which reunites him with his perennial hit-making producer Keith Stegall, offers plenty of songs sure to join the long list of classics he has cut over the course of almost twenty years in Nashville.

“Good Time,” the title track and an apt opener for this sprawling disc, proves that Jackson is still capable of freewheeling froth. When the somber sets that mark Jackson’s last four years are considered, this carefree ditty becomes an exorcism–setting the pace for the rest of the album and shaking the cobwebs from Jackson’s lighthearted side.

The tone shifts to traditional material with “Small Town Southern Man,” the lead single that exhibits Jackson at full throttle. As simple and forthright as the man described in the song’s lyric, Jackson sings this down-home fare better than just about anyone else in the genre.

The rest of the album plays like a textbook tour of Jackson’s career. There are evocative ballads, cutesy novelties and plucky toe-tappers–all longtime Jackson trademarks and all entertaining despite, or because of, their inherent familiarity.

Standouts like “Long Long Way” feature tidy arrangements that tweak Jackson’s time-tested formula. “Long Long Way” is an instantly engaging splash of mountain music that should be the next track to hit the airwaves. “Listen to Your Senses” takes the bluegrass route as well, and the result is an effervescent charm.

Jackson also shines in groovier settings, like the Martina McBride duet “Never Loved Before,” a tribute to Dottie West’s peppier duets with Kenny Rogers. “Laid Back ‘n’ Low Key,” another boot-scooter, is a meditation on beach life that transcends every one of Kenny Chesney’s odes to the ocean.

As a whole, Good Time shows that Jackson’s consistent production of quality material has only been enhanced by the period of artistic growth that preceded this record’s release. If there’s one criticism worth rising, it’s that, at seventeen tracks, Good Time seems bloated alongside the trim albums country music typically produces. The album’s impact would have benefited from some judicious editing.

While this collection of self-penned songs is sturdy–there’s not a lousy tune in the bunch–there are some that fail to elevate the work as a whole. “If You Want to Make Me Happy” is a carbon copy of “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” and there are more than a few ballads (“I Wish I Could Back Up,” “Right Where I Want You” and “When the Love Factor’s High”) that blend together–with one another and with Jackson’s past hits.

Too much of a good thing might be a good thing, but the oversized load keeps Good Time from being great.

3.5 Stars

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  1. [...] Alan Jackson - Good Time As a whole, Good Time shows that Jackson's consistent production of quality material has only been enhanced by the period of artistic growth that preceded this record's release. If there's one criticism worth rising, it's that, at seventeen tracks, Good Time seems bloated alongside the trim albums country music typically produces. The album's impact would have benefited from some judicious editing. - Adam Tamburin [...]
  1. John
    March 20, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Alan Jackson is an important and talented artist whose career has generally done himself and Country Music proud.

    His voice has presence; is right on the money; and is so inately Country that it is the perfect vehicle for his traditional approach. Meanwhile, he is also an outstanding songwriter with a sincerity and sensitivity at his core which few male Country artists seem to have.

    If he stopped making records today, his would still be a Hall of Fame career. And some of his songs will be played for many years to come.

  2. Corey
    March 20, 2008 at 10:32 am

    I don’t often agree to the exact half-star with a review…but I agree here. You’re spot on. Too much is better than not enough, but yeah, there’s some filler. Is Alan going to become the Ryan Adams of country music?? I take difference with you on “Right Where I Want You”… I think that’s one of AJ’s best ballads – ever.

  3. Matt C.
    March 20, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I probably give this one about 3 stars, but for entirely different reasons. The record sounds great, both the production and AJ’s performances, but the writing here is nowhere near AJ quality. “Country Boy,” etc. are laundry lists of meaningless platitudes: that’s the kind of writing that I expect from just about everyone except AJ these days.

  4. Brady Vercher
    March 20, 2008 at 11:29 am

    I gotta agree with Matt on this one. Despite the return to his traditional sound (although I did enjoy the previous two albums), the writing was a little weak by his own standards. I’d say 3 to 3.5 stars is fair, though.

  5. Jonathan at MTCM
    March 20, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Alan Jackson has been the most consistent artist in country music the last 20 years in producing commercially successful, yet artistically strong music. Alan’s place amongst the country music legends is secure.

    I am not seeing how “If You Want to Make Me Happy is a carbon copy of “Don’t Rock the Jukebox”. DRTJ is an up-tempo, rocking song, while IYWTMMH is a sold, traditional country ballad. If you say the themes of a man trying to drink away heartache are similar, well then there are a couple thousand more country songs like that.

    That said I like the generally positive review given here. I probably would have moved it up to 4 stars, but that just my opinion. Like George Strait, Alan Jackson knows what his fans want and then delivers it. Alan and George’s fans have rewarded them with long, productive careers that are enjoyed by only a select few country artists.

    I will take seventeen good songs from Alan Jackson any day. For me to much of a good thing is indeed a good thing.

  6. Leeann
    March 20, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Over all, I enjoyed this album. I agree with Jonathan that when it comes to Alan “Too much of a good thing is a good thing.” However, this review certainly is not without very valid points. There’s something that wouldn’t allow me to give it more than 4 stars.

    One trivial thing that kind of annoyed me is that I noticed that he uses the word “and” quite a bit on this album. It seemed as though he used the word as a syllable filler. I doubt that anyone noticed or was annoyed by this, but I wanted to get off my chest anyway.:)

  7. Paul W Dennis
    March 20, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    I’ve only had time to listen to it once through but I’d probably give it 4 stars

  8. Jaime
    March 20, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    “Long Long Way” is one of the best songs I have heard in a long time!

    And you are so right–“Laid Back ‘n’ Low Key” is excellent, too.

  9. CF
    March 21, 2008 at 2:47 am

    It’s a very good album, but I’d give it about a 4. Maybe it’s because I received Ashton Shepherd’s album at the same time (which I think is slightly better – I just love it). My favorite songs on Alan’s would be: “If You Want to Make Me Happy” and “When the Love Factor’s High” and the others are good too. I don’t really care for “Sissy’s Song” too much though…I think it’s the instrumentation.

  10. Tim B
    March 26, 2008 at 11:29 am

    I agree it seems as though there are too many songs on the album like he just kinda threw ‘em on there because he had ‘em. The tone feels more commercial than an artistic with a few of the songs feelin kinda half hearted. Either way I’ll be seein’ Jackson on his upcoming tour, ticketmaster had no tickets for the show anybody else have that problem?, used a comp site and they had hundreds of tickets from all these different sellers.

  11. Mike W.
    March 28, 2008 at 7:17 am

    It’s an alright album, I like the fact he decided to give the fans a very meaty album in terms of the number of songs, but Alan is starting to bore me quite honestly. Part of it is my musical tastes changing to the more Country/Rock sound of guys like Gary Allan, Dierks Bentley, The Randy Rogers Band, Chris Knight and Wade Bowen, but songwriting wise this album just feels like it’s been done.

    Sure, “Small Town Southern Man” and “I Wish I Could Back Up” are very good songs, but so many of the songs either feel “unimportant” if you will, like they are filler or they just arent musically or lyrically interesting, see songs like “Country Boy” and “Good Time”.

    I will always like Alan Jackson, but I think at some point he needs to step back from the writing process and cut some songs like other songwriters. Alan can still write songs with the best of them in ANY genre, but it is bound to happen that after SO many albums and SO many songs, the man just starts to run out of fresh things to say.

  12. Cory P.
    May 13, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    I know with a lot of singers/songwriters, it just seems that instead of saying something new or different, they just say the same thing differently.

  13. Lee
    June 22, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Can anyone tell me the name of the manufacturer of the red shirt Alan has on, on his new CD cover Goodtimes?

  14. tboy
    April 16, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Its a great CD.ant nothing like people that can’t write music jab their jaws about someone who can write. Especially a country legend

  15. Razor X
    April 16, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    And then there are people who can’t write coherent comments on blogs ….

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