Music Reviews: Return to greatness

Good Time – Alan Jackson
The last time Alan Jackson put out a new CD (Like Red on a Rose), this Truckers News column crucified the long-legged Georgian. Luckily, Jackson must’ve picked up a copy, ’cause this record is a dramatic improvement.

The 2008 release reunites Jackson with producer Keith Stegall, who has produced virtually every A.J. album but the last one. For the first time, the singer is the sole writer of every track – and yes, he sure can write. “Small Town Southern Man” is the disc’s Dixie-themed first single. Additional winners include the sweetly poignant “Sissy’s Song” (inspired by a friend who passed away), the nostalgic “1976,” and the joyous romp of “Country Boy.” A

Good Thing Going – Rhonda Vincent
Back in the mid-’90s, Rhonda Vincent took at stab at mainstream country as a member of Giant Records’ roster. That didn’t work out too well. So the Kirksville, Mo., native returned to her bluegrass upbringing and successfully found a niche that delivered the 45-year-old talented beauty a lot of album sales in the last decade.

Vincent’s brand of bluegrass is rich in tradition while remaining unmistakably modern. She has earned an unprecedented seven consecutive “Female Vocalist of the Year” awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association, and she’s a top concert and festival draw. You’ll get a dose of this in Good Thing Going. The heartfelt “I Give All My Love to You” is a song that’ll stir your emotions. The title track is an autobiographical glimpse of the singer. A great CD – and a great talent. B+

A Place to Land – Little Big Town
Little Big Town’s preceding record, The Road to Here, went platinum. The Nashville foursome garnered two Grammy Award nominations and captured “Top New Duo or Vocal Group” at the CMAs. So now’s the time, LBT, to put your money where it counts – a follow-up.

A Place to Land contains 12 new tracks, 10 of which are penned by Little Big Town. Top tracks include “Evangeline,” “To Know Love” and the throwback first single, “I’m With the Band.” A-

Starting Now – Chuck Wicks
RCA Nashville newcomer Chuck Wicks has come a long way from his family’s potato farm in Smyrna, Del., to Music City – spending many a day doing odd jobs, including parking cars, and looking to get his lucky break.

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The short-lived TV series Nashville was Wicks’ entry into national fame. Now he’s opening sold-out concerts for Brad Paisley, performing his debut hit “Stealing Cinderella.” The track was the fastest rising single from a debut artist in ’07. Wicks, 28, co-wrote that song, as well as nine other tunes on the 11-track CD. B