Personnel: Brent Mason (acoustic guitar); Gary Prim (piano, organ); John Wesley Ryles, Melodie Crittenden (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: John Kelton.
Recording information: The Sound Station, Nashville, TN.
On 2006's PRECIOUS MEMORIES, country superstar Alan Jackson ventures into gospel territory, offering up a set of warm and inviting faith-themed songs. These spare tracks feature no percussion and rely almost solely on piano and acoustic guitar, allowing the focus to remain on Jackson's resonant vocals and the songs' devoutly Christian lyrics. Although praising Jesus is clearly the core of this album, the beautifully minimalist renderings of spiritual classics are so soothing and pleasant that the disc's appeal is sure to extend to fans of Jackson's secular music, particularly on "Softly and Tenderly," which is enhanced by gentle organ lines, and "I'll Fly Away," here given a light, jaunty bluegrass feel. The resulting atmosphere evokes images of the Georgia-born singer/guitarist sitting in on a friendly, open-air church service, leading a sing-along of traditional numbers such as "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" and "I Want to Stroll Over Heaven with You."
Rolling Stone (p.94) - "Alan Jackson sings in a rich, restrained baritone that helps give even his rowdier songs a touch of classic-country elegance. That voice is at its most sensibly sturdy on PRECIOUS MEMORIES..."
Entertainment Weekly (p.103) - "The delivery of these old church songs is solemn, the accompaniment sparse, and the historical value real..." -- Grade: B+
No Depression (p.132) - "The arrangements rarely extend beyond stately solo piano or guitar, the harmonies sound homespun and familial, and Jackson's vocal subtlety has a self-effacing humility in the face of a higher power."