Picks and Pans Review: Heroes and Friends
If you're in a large-scale sort of chummy mood, this good-natured album should tide you over until the next barn raising or quilting bee.
It's a cavalcade of duets with Travis, country music's current 900-lb. gorilla, rounding up a wagonload of collaborating talent. He teams with Dolly Parton on her "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind," joins Kris Krisloffcrson on the neatly turned Bernie Nelson-Lisa Palas tune "Walk Our Own Road" and plays upstart to George Jones's old-timer—"From the smoke it's hard to tell/What's coming down the line"—on the slick "A Few Ole Country Boys" by Troy Seals and Mentor Williams.
Clint Eastwood sings amiably on "Smokin' the Hive." Willie Nelson and Travis, generating enough nasality to keep an otolaryngologists' convention happy for weeks, offer a pleasantly surprising version of "Birth of the Blues." Vern Gosdin, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, B.B. King, Merle Haggard and Conway Twitty pitch in too. This is a rich batch of talent even by all-star cast standards, and Travis and producer Kyle Lehning finish with, what else, "Happy Trails," with Roy Rogers.
So Randy is no Dale Evans. But he and Roy still sound pretty good together, and the song is a perfect way to top off an engaging, flat-out enjoyable project. (Warner Bros.)
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