Fans of Gretchen Wilson’s chart-topping 2004 debut album, “Here for the Party,” might have braced for a letdown with her latest, “All Jacked Up.”
Feel free to unbrace. This album’s even better than the first. The pride of Pocahontas, Ill. pulls no punches (again) and nearly every song sounds like a dare for someone to tell the country sensation she’s all bluster — and not expect a face full ’o knuckles.
The title track, “All Jacked Up,” is a romp about keeping an eye on your drinking. Wilson knows her way around a bar, she readily admits, and she’s not one to shy away from a song about knocking a few back. But there’s something responsible about her don’t-do-it-while-driving caveat here.
“One Bud Wiser” is a hands down instant karaoke classic. Every country girl worth her salt will be trying to belt this one out for years to come. Wilson looks to the bottle for a little solace after a bad breakup:
“When he left me he took my brand new Silverado/ I started thumbin’ and I finally hitched a ride/ I just came in here to drink a beer and watch the rednecks fight/ Now I don’t feel so bad about going home alone tonight,” she belts out in earnest.
It’s all here. “Politically Uncorrect” is the brazen flag-waver and “Rebel Child” is the strong sung but cautionary tale about life in the fast lane that could use a little downshifting to avoid the mistakes of youth.
Wilson turns tender for a moment on the waltz-paced “I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today.” She shows vulnerability, a rarity for a pretty girl without a smiling photo to found on her Web site promo shots.
“Skoal Ring” is the only weak link to be found. Any song that glorifies a man halfway home to gum cancer is a dud. Sure, it’s supposed to be country code for a hard working man of true grit. But it’s a throwaway tune that unfortunately stayed on the album.
That aside, Wilson is the real deal. If there’s a better country act going, let’s see it.