Both nostalgic and sentimental, Allan tackles fatherhood, driving lessons and the attacks on the World Trade Center with this 2002 release.
He sings straight, writes songs without a half dozen Music Row hacks pitching in their two cents and keeps the music basic. On Drive
, Jackson mixes wistful visions with satire, sorrow and eloquence, using old cars ("Drive (For Daddy Gene)") to explore growing up and, on "Work In Progress", spoofing a woman obsessed with "improving" her man. As usual, he explores love's joy ("When Love Comes Around") and anguish ("The Sounds"). His flair for thoughtful, evocative expression reaches its zenith with his classic nine-11 commentary "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)", included in both the studio version and the song's live debut on the CMA Awards. Non-originals, including the Mark Irwin-Irene Kelley tune "A Little Bluer Than That", fit the album's tone. "Designated Drinker", a duet with George Strait
, is a pleasant vocal event, though it's rendered mundane by the quality of the other material. Yet again, Jackson zaps Nashville's fallacy that any recipe for success requires generous helpings of dated pop and rock. --Rich Kienzle