Mack: Richie’s country duets mostly workWritten by Jason Mack | | email@example.com
Lionel Richie, “Tuskegee”
Lionel Richie has always had an affinity for country music, and the result of him finally exploring it is a solid collection of duets with country stars of yesterday and today. On “Tuskegee,” Richie doesn’t try to mold his voice into a country sound and lets the country artists bring their own flare. Rather than clash, the two styles blend beautifully on most songs.
Something about Richie singing with old country singers just works. “Lady” stands out above all else on the album as he and Kenny Rogers both kill it on the duet of a song they’ve both recorded. The duet of “Easy” with Willie Nelson is another solid track made great by the use of harmonica.
There is also plenty of less elderly talent to go around including solid duets such as “You Are” with Blake Shelton, “Say You, Say Me” with Jason Aldean and “Just For You” with Billy Currington.
The song “All Night Long” is tailor made for Jimmy Buffet, but the island vibe feels grossly out of place on the country album.
“Endless Love” with Shania Twain wasn’t the right choice for the first single off the album. The vocals alone are fine, but they don’t combine well with the fingerpicked guitar. It lacks the punch and emotion of the original and is nothing more than nice.
A better choice for the first single would have been “Hello” with Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles. Richie’s smooth vocals and Nettles’ powerful twang blend perfectly with the gradual growth of the aggressive instrumental backing.
Richie’s first major foray into country music is a great success, and his next step should be recording an original country album.
**** out of 5
All-American Rejects, “Kids in the Street”
All-American Rejects leans more toward alt-rock than punk on their first studio album in four years. The harder sound works on “Kids in the Street,” but the songs with a lighter touch are the strongest.
“Affection” is the best of the album and a solid ballad that should get radio play. Ironically, bonus demo versions of “Someday’s Gone” and “Bleed Into Your Mind” are improvements on their studio counterparts on the album. All-American Rejects is at its best when stripped down and should strongly consider doing a more acoustic album.
The album lacks any true standouts like “Swing Swing,” “Dirty Little Secret” or “Gives You Hell,” but it is consistently solid throughout.
*** out of 5