For the few who make it to a second greatest-hits package, the quality of material often declines.

For the few who make it to a second greatest-hits package, the quality of material often declines. But not so for Alan Jackson, whose "Volume II" represents a remarkable growth. Jackson is that rare artist who can master both the lightweight ("WWW.Memory") and the substantive ("Everything I Love"). What sets Jackson apart, however, is his ability to so effectively communicate the personal in a manner that cuts to the bone, as on "I'll Go On Loving You" and "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)." He is also a master interpreter ("Pop a Top," "The Blues Man"), paying homage while remaining his own person. Generous at 26 cuts, the collection features the current hit "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere." It is tempting to say Jackson is at the top of his game, but that would imply he has already peaked.—RW