Alan Jackson, Kelsea Ballerini | Ravinia Festival | Folk & Country | Chicago Reader

Alan Jackson, Kelsea Ballerini Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Mon., Aug. 31, 7 p.m. 2015

Inside Alan Jackson’s new album, Angels and Alcohol (EMI Nashville), is a picture of his 1989 debut, Here in the Real World. That detail serves as a boldface reminder that the second-wave hat act has now been in the game for 25 years—and with the retirement of George Strait a couple years back, he stands as mainstream country’s standard-bearer. Compared to a current Nashville star like Luke Bryan, who builds phrasing around hip-hop rhythms, Jackson might seem a bit quaint at this stage of the game, but his new record reasserts his mastery. “You Never Know” shows off some early Memphis rock ’n’ roll, while “You Can Always Come Home” is a benign ballad that repudiates Thomas Wolfe’s old adage in favor of an expression of unconditional love and support. And though the modern honky-tonk number “Jim and Jack and Hank” is a familiar celebration of the healing power of country music and whiskey, it’s no less enjoyable­—you just have to never mind its placement alongside the title track, where the narrator pushes the booze away.

Peter Margasak

Price: $38-$95

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