With his new studio album ‘Thirty Miles West,’ Alan Jackson returns to the forefront of country music. His label home may have changed since the release of his last project more than two years ago, but Jackson’s reputation for constructing quality country albums remains intact 15 albums into his iconic recording career.

Claiming co-writing credits on six of the 13 tracks, Jackson admits the most personal is the closing tune, ‘When I Saw You Leaving (For Nisey).’ The heartbreaking song was written after witnessing his wife, Denise, go through agonizing chemotherapy and radiation cycles while battling cancer.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through,” Jackson tells the Chicago Tribune. ”I was taking care of her since she was about 17. I paid for her college and bought her a car before we were ever married. It’s almost like I half-raised her. I’ve always been taking care of her, and (the cancer) was the one thing I couldn’t do a thing about.”

“I couldn’t help her, other than to just be there with her, and that was really hard. It was just something that life brought us.”

Another featured tune Jackson holds in high regard is the project’s current single, ‘So You Don’t Have To Love Me Anymore.’ “At first, it raised the hair on my arms when I heard the demo. It’s the kind of song that made me want to be in country music,” he said.

“I’m such a big fan of that kind of song. Sad songs, break-up songs and heartache songs are always the best ones to bring that emotion out … People are comparing it to a new ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today.’ I wouldn’t want to put myself in that category with George [Jones], but it is a great song.” The song, which was written by Jay Knowles and Jackson’s nephew Adam Wright.

Similarly, ‘Gonna Come Back as a Country Song’ is another song Jackson hopes will serve as a beacon for traditional country music. “When I first heard that song, I thought it was a perfect fit for me,” confesses Jackson. “I’ve always stood up for country music.”

When it came to giving the collection a fitting title, Jackson reveals why ‘Thirty Miles West’ felt most appropriate.“There’s this highway that’s been in existence for forever now — it’s called the Dixie Highway and it runs from north of Michigan all the way down to South Florida, and I wrote a song about it that’s on the album,” he explains. “I grew up on Highway 34 outside of Newnan, Ga., and that’s where we came up with ‘Thirty Miles West.’ I think we were about thirty miles west of the official part of the Dixie Highway that runs through Georgia.”

Set to hit store shelves and digital retailers on June 5, ‘Thirty Miles West’ is Jackson’s first release under his own label, Alan’s Country Records, in partnership with EMI Nashville. Amongst his appearances during a media blitz in promotion of the project is a visit to CBS’s ‘Late Show With David Letterman’ on the album’s release day. Click here to view Jackson’s complete list of appearances.

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