Alan Jackson doesn't mince words when he shares his thoughts on the current landscape of country music. As a traditionalist who built his career on a collection of classic country songs like "Drive," "Remember When" and "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning," Jackson says the format is nearly unrecognizable to him in its current state.

"Country music is gone — and it's not coming back," he insists.

"It's like the 1980s again. I’m 62 years old; I’m not some 30-year-old stud. It’s not the same, but somebody has to bring it back, because it’s not just people in their 50s, it’s people in their 20s, too," the country icon continues in an interview with Hits Daily Double.

"All the kids and young people around my house? The older they’ve got, the more hardcore and traditional what they’ve leaned into has become," Jackson adds. "It’s not old-school, it’s the real school. And I’m kinda pissed off … about what’s happened to the format, or whatever they wanna call it."

Jackson leans heavily into his timeless country roots on his new album, Where Have You Gone, calling on traditional country instruments including fiddle and steel guitar to help tell his stories through song. The singer describes the project as "harder country" than he’s done in the past, and a project he has "always dreamed" of making, with the title track addressing his issues with the genre's modern sound head-on.

"Real country songs are life and love and heartache. They’re drinking, singing about Mama and having a good time, sad things, fun things," he analyzes, adding of the album, "It reflects the sounds of the instruments I grew up on, steel and acoustic guitar, the fiddle and the way they all came together. It gave you a sound, but also a real feeling or emotions no other music really had."

Where Have You Gone is due out on Friday (May 14).

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