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Soundtrack review: 'Country Strong'

Country_strong_240z- So how does Gwyneth Paltrow sound with a Nashville makeover? That’s likely the first and most obvious question when it comes to the soundtrack to tearjerker “Country Strong.” On a 13-track album with a number of Nashville stars, be it Faith Hill or A-list songwriters such as Tom Douglas and Hillary Lindsey, Paltrow is the clear outsider.

Yet all’s well. When it comes to carrying a tune, Paltrow is on par — and heck, even better — than a number of blond-haired country starlets. Whether that says more about the talents of the actress or the quality of Nashville pop would make for another debate, but she’s go-getter tough on “Country Strong,” punctuating the last word with an ever-so-slight snarl, and she sounds even better hushed and wounded on “Coming Home.” If she’s not the next Reba McEntire, Paltrow could certainly hold her own with a Hillary Scott.

The rest of the soundtrack is a capable snapshot of what could pass for above-average country pop in 2010. Sara Evans has a pretty yet nondescript ballad, and likewise Hill plays it safe. Better is Ronnie Dunn, who faithfully tackles the classic drinking ode “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Double),” and Lee Ann Womack, who needs little more than a fiddle to slay on “Liars Lie.”

— Todd Martens


"Country Strong”
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment
Two stars (Out of four)

Comments () | Archives (6)

Blond hair country starlets. Wonder who he's referring to?

Why not mention Garrett Hedlund? He sounds really great like he has been in Nashville a long time.........other people who have reviewed this movie and the music gave him a big thumbs up.

Is Garrett Hedlund (sp?) on the soundtrack? I just saw the movie last night and I was very impressed by his singing voice, even more so when I realized he's the same actor from TRON, which blew me away.

country music, not exactly Puccini or Mozart. If you can say the words, not exactly Shakespeare, and have a vocal range of about 5 notes, you can make a record, especially with today's digital recording techniques. The only way to know if someone can sing is to here them live, without lip-sync. Actually, the country artists who tour in busses and play 6 nights a week are, in general, very good. I have performed with many of them and can confirm this. Gwynneth Paltrow, although a fine actress, probably ain't much of a country singer, she didn't exactly have a trailer-trash upbringing, hell, the only trucks she ever saw belonged to the trash collecters or the gardeners, by gum!

I haven't seen Country Strong yet and I'm not sure if I ever will. Most of the movie reviews are negative. But I’m happy I bought the soundtrack CD. It’s delightful.

Gwyneth Paltrow's "Country Strong" and "Coming Home" are worth listening to again and again, although the latter would sound better with straight country instrumentation without the recording-studio string section.

I hope Leighton Meester's "Words I Couldn't Say" will be a major step on the road to country music stardom for her. And if I ever decide to see the movie, it will be because I want to hear “Give In To me” in its original form as a duet by Meester and Garrett Hedlund.

Anyone who likes good old country waltzes will be delighted with Lee Ann Womack’s ¾-time gem, “Liars Lie.” The accompanying musicians, especially the fiddler and the steel guitar player, seem to be having the time of their lives emoting on this one.

I was surprised and delighted to learn that Sara Evans' wonderful "A Little Bit Stronger," the video of which I have enjoyed many times on TV, is on the soundtrack. I must admit that I think Sara Evans possesses the most exquisite voice of any female country singer active today.

The real treasure of the album for me, however, is the duet "Love, Don't Let Me Down" by Chris Young and Patty Loveless. Chris's "The Man I Want to Be" and Patty's "Mountain Soul II" are two of the finest albums which I have purchased recently, and to hear Chris and Patty together thrills me.

I loved the movie - looked forward to buying the sound track, was HUGELY disappointed that Faith Hill sang Give In To Me. I was so looking forward to hearing Leighton Meester and Garrett Hedlund. I have mentioned to friends not to purchase if your hoping for the original from the movie. I was looking for the music and vocals from the movie.


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