Alan Jackson, "Angels and Alcohol" (ACR/EMI Nashville)
Alan Jackson once again proves capable of finding fresh wrinkles in his comfortable, familiar style. His new album, "Angels and Alcohol," delivers good-time honky-tonk, emotional country ballads and gentle, philosophical tunes about the enduring strengths and occasional difficulties of life.
From the spiritual truths of "You Can Always Come Home" to the escapist fun of "Mexico, Tequila and Me" to the hard-won insights of the title cut, Jackson serves up another set of songs that extend his remarkably consistent body of work.
Jackson wrote seven of the 10 new songs by himself. As usual, he selects outside material carefully; one of the best is Adam and Shannon Wright's "The One You're Waiting On," a steel-drenched, melancholy song about a woman left to fend off others while waiting for a date that is either late or not showing up.
As Jackson, 56, evolves into standard-bearer status, he moves into the latter stages of his career with the steady artistry of his heroes Merle Haggard and George Strait — that is, he continues to create new work that suggests he's just as in touch with his muse today as anytime in the past.