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Soundtrack review: 'Country Strong'

January 4, 2011 |  8:09 am

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)