Hippo Manchester
October 13, 2005

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Gretchen Wilson, All Jacked Up

Sony Nashville, 2005

****

In a day when much of what passes for country music is released by the likes of pretty pop-wannabees such as Faith Hill and Shania Twain, I had almost forgotten the genre’s not-so-glitzy roots. Thankfully Gretchen Wilson arrived.

She is, as one reviewer said it, putting the trailer park back into country music. Her 2004 debut album Here for the Party stole my double-wide heart with tracks like “Homewrecker” and “Redneck Woman.” And her refusal to bow down to the beauty ideal set forth by Hollywood sealed the deal.

In her follow-up album All Jacked Up, Wilson’s stays close to her blue-collar livin’, honky-tonk drinkin’, cowboy-lovin’ roots. Fans of this type of song will not be disappointed by cuts like “All Jacked Up,” “Skoal Ring,” and “One Bud Wiser.”

Her hell-raisin’ style disappears, however, on tracks like “He Ain’t Even Cold Yet” and “I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today.” Who would have guessed that behind her rough-and-tumble veneer is a beautiful, decidedly feminine voice?

As she did in Here for the Party, Wilson here offers a number of autobiographical tracks. “Full Time Job” is another anthem to the all-too-hectic life of mothers, while “Not Bad For a Bartender” is an almost formulaic, look-how-far-I’ve-come song.

That said, Gretchen Wilson is an original. And in Nashville these days, that’s something rare indeed.

— Will Stewart