Tuesday, April 10, 2012

All Twang Long

They say the best songs are the ones that can be translated from one genre to another. I have always liked Lionel Richie's songs, in R & B mode, and now he has released an album of country songs. But the catch? One, he has done country arrangements for them, and two, he sings them as duets with country singers. And nothing is lost in translation. These songs soar just as greatly, and at times they become even more honest without all the 80s rhythmic bells and whistles. You can't replace soul by putting twang in them. At times, it even enhances the real soul in these songs. I don't really dislike country music, actually I have quite a few country artists in my music collection, and of course I am a big fan of Dolly Parton. (She is sorely missing in his duet partners, by the by) Some of these artists I have a problem with (Blake Shelton is a homophobe, for example) but I guess for the sake of music, I can try to get past their Fundamentalist Christian insanity, and yes, Blake Shelton was fantastic in "You Are," and Kenny Chesney is great in "My Life."  One of my favorite tracks is a stripped down bare-your-everything take of "Hello with Jennifer Neetles, who I have never heard before, and will always remember now. And a lilting arrangement of "Endless Love" actually improves on the original, making it less sappy, and in a weird sense, making it more current. And Shania Twain duetting with him in it doesn't hurt, of course. Actually, I cannot think of a track that doesn't work, perhaps the "Dancing On The Ceiling" with Rascal Flatts was too busy? And where is my all-time favorite Lionel Richie song, "Truly?"  Lionel Richie proves that you can come back to the top of the charts just as strong by creating still wonderful music that still sounds like music. 

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