Like all great covers albums, Under the Influence says more about the person singing the covers than it does the songs being sung. It would have been easy for a traditionalist like Alan Jackson to record a dozen Hank Williams and Buck Owens songs and let the praise rain down. Instead, he does something much more personal, and it shows. Except for a crowd-pleasing rendition of Jimmy Buffett’s "Margaritaville,” the songs here are not obvious choices, or even well-known. They are included because they are important to Jackson, and he treats them with the same care and affection one would have for a longtime friend. Most of these songs were minor hits in the late ‘70s, the period when Jackson was coming of age as a country singer. My Own Kind of Hat” and “The Way I Am” are not the most famous Merle Haggard songs, but that’s what makes Jackson’s renditions of them special. Gene Watson’s “Farewell Party” and John Anderson’s “She Just Started Liking Cheatin’ Songs” might have been lost to history, but Jackson locates in them the sweet despair that makes for immortal country ballads.