October 7, 2019  (Web Review)

Alan Jackson: Small Town Southern Man

(2018) 90 min. DVD: $9.98. Eagle Rock Entertainment (avail. from most distributors).

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

Basically a valentine for fans of country singer-songwriter Alan Jackson, filmmaker John Albarian’s upbeat overview of Jackson’s career trajectory from blue-collar working man to superstar brings together family members, friends, musicians from his backing band, and country music bosses to sing his deserved if also somewhat monotonous praises. Beginning with his four sisters’ memories of Jackson’s childhood and teen years in their hometown of Newnan, GA, a portrait emerges of a schoolboy who grew up listening to gospel but then discovered country music and was transformed. Playing in a high school band, Jackson aspired to break into recording, but it wasn’t until he was 26 that he and his wife Denise borrowed money from Jackson’s family to move to Nashville, where—with a little help from Glen Campbell—Jackson started to gain traction as a singer who writes many of his own songs. That history makes for interesting telling, but the film’s ceaseless praise from talking heads and awards tributes (Country Music Hall of Fame, etc.) becomes a numbing drone after a while. Fortunately, past and more current interviews with Jackson bring some necessary humility and artistic nuance to this profile. A strong optional purchase. Aud: P. (T. Keogh)