NASHVILLE (Billboard) - After taking a couple of creative detours on his last two albums, Alan Jackson returns to his readily identifiable brand of traditional country with the March 4 release of “Good Time.”
“I always come back to what I came to Nashville to do, and that’s make traditional-sounding country music. This album bounces back to that,” Jackson said of the Arista Nashville release, which follows his platinum-selling gospel collection, “Precious Memories,” and the Alison Krauss-produced “Like Red on a Rose.”
Jackson knew “Like Red on a Rose” was not what his core fans had grown to expect from him. “When we made it, I said the critics will probably like it, but I don’t know if my regular fans will get it,” he said of the project, which has sold 775,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. “I think had radio embraced it a little more, the fans would have liked it.”
But according to Arista vice president of marketing and artist development Jon Elliot, “Like Red on a Rose” broadened Jackson’s base. “Commercially it may not have sold as well as other Alan Jackson albums,” he said, “but in terms of the acclaim that it got, it put him in a whole new light with certain noncountry music fans and the industry as a whole.”
“Precious Memories,” on the other hand, resonated strongly with Jackson’s core audience as well as gaining him fans in the Christian market. It was the year’s top-selling Christian title in 2006 and has sold 1.6 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Will he record another Christian album? “Well, I will, but I’ve got that polka album I want to do first and I’ve been putting it off,” Jackson said with a laugh.
Jackson has always written the bulk of his hits, but “Good Time” marks his first time as sole writer on every track. It’s also a reunion with Keith Stegall, who has produced every Jackson album except “Like Red on a Rose.”
First single “Small Town Southern Man,” No. 11 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, has proved to be a strong introduction to the new album.
“The label felt it was a good song that my die-hard fans could connect with,” Jackson said of the single. “When I started writing it, I started pulling things from my memories that fit the song. A lot of it is from my life and my parents’ life.”
Jackson duets with Martina McBride on the lively “Never Loved Before.” When asked why he chose McBride for the song, the self-effacing artist replied in a smooth Georgia drawl, “A lot of people wouldn’t want to sing with me, I imagine, but Martina has toured with me. She’s one of the best female singers out there. It’s a fun song with a light lyric.”
On the more somber side is the track “Sissy’s Song,” which Jackson wrote for a family friend who died in a motorcycle accident.