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It's a great time for Alan Jackson. The recent success of his best of compilation followed the Country Music Association crowning him as Entertainer of the Year 2003. Succeeding his seven nominations for this year's CMA Awards, Jackson serves up a collection of songs that would shatter your heart on a spitty sawdust floor, but with aproduction so clean you could eat your dinner off it.
What I Do is a proclamation of faiths. The belief in his musical ability, the knowledge of love overriding all and, of course, the devastation of loss are all represented, as well as the birth of new-man Jackson in the form of "If French Fries Were Fat Free" ("If french fries were fat free and you still loved me/ What a wonderful world this would be").
But the album is far from a joke, there are real touching songs on What I Do. "You Dont Have to Paint Me A Picture", "Rainy Day In June" and a fantastic cover of the Baxter/Enderlin "Monday Morning Church" all hit a sincere spot where other country songs fail.
The musicianship of the players must also be noted, particularly the stringwork between lap steeler Paul Franklin and the electric six stringin' of Brent Mason. The others are not short on the goods either. "Burnin The Honky Tonks Down" is a romp through billy hills with an intensity of a whiskey festival pulled off with a sobering mastery.
What I Do is a great snapshot of where Alan Jackson and American C'n'W are today. Both have had hard times and both deserve better credit so it is only fitting that Jackson signs off with the live take "To Do What I Do": "So I hope the critics and the skeptics alike / All bought a ticket to this show tonight / They'll see first hand that I have survived / And what doesn't kill you makes you more alive." You said it Alan.