So melancholy and introspective as to be almost emotionally monochromatic, Alan Jackson's brooding "Like Red on a Rose" is an impressive left turn for the neo-traditionalist Nashville veteran, dialing down the sunshine streaking hits like "Chattahoochee" and infusing his evocative baritone with an almost palpable sense of pain. Jackson's secret weapon? Placing himself in the hands of multi-Grammy Award-winning bluegrass queen Alison Krauss, whose ear for minor-key lamentations about shattered love gives Jackson some of the most potent and poignant material of his two-decade career. From the subtly overwhelming title track to the almost jazzy "Anywhere on Earth You Are," Jackson fits comfortably into Krauss' impeccable, heavily shadowed production.
If "Like Red on a Rose" has any shortcomings, it's that Krauss leans too heavily on dour, lovelorn songs' a quick burst of upbeat honky-tonk country-pop, Jackson's well-honed stock in trade, would've allowed this "Rose" to bloom more fully.
- Preston Jones