Sunday, January 16, 2011
My 2010 Illinois Entertainer Reviews, p. 7
Alan Jackson: Freight Train (Arista Nashville)--The problem with most of these songs isn’t that they celebrate heartland verities. Even people who don’t believe “True Love Is a Golden Ring” sometimes wish they did. The problem is that Jackson is so accomplished at rendering heartland verities in song that he seems to have forgotten what makes them special to those who love them (and controversial to those who malign them) in the first place. Somehow the “God bless the working’ man” refrain of “Hard Hat and a Hammer” packs a lot less of a wallop than any of the workin’-man blues that Merle Haggard has sung over the centuries. Not surprisingly, it’s when Jackson acknowledges life’s little downs (“Tail Lights Blue,” “After 17,” the title cut) that he still seems like someone with something to say.
Galactic: Ya-Ka-May (Anti-)--As of this writing, the New Orleans Saints are one week away from playing in their first-ever Super Bowl. If they win, it’s a cinch their hometown’s infamous French Quarter will explode into revelry the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the last Cops episode devoted to Mardi Gras. And when the partying starts, these songs or something like them will be heard blasting all up and down Bourbon Street. Similar to 2007’s From the Corner to the Block, Galactic’s first album without lead singer Theryl DeClouet, Ya-Ka-May finds Galactic collaborating, this time with a Crescent City Who’s Who (Big Chief Bo Dollis, Allen Toussaint, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Irma Thomas, the Rebirth Brass Band) for whom ratcheting up the funk would be second nature if it weren’t their only one.