LAVIN', LOVIN', LOSIN'—SONGS OF THE LOUVIN BROTHERS
Louvin brothers Charlie, now 76, and Ira, who died in 1965, developed two-part harmonies that have been approached only by the Everly Brothers. On this CD, 15 country collaborations pay loving homage to the duo. Among the many highlights are the poignant reunion of Emmylou Harris and her former sideman Rodney Crowell on "My Baby's Gone" and the touching duet by James Taylor and Alison Krauss on "How's the World Treating You."
I'VE ALWAYS BEEN CRAZY: A TRIBUTE TO WAYLON JENNINGS
This disc isn't really superior to Lonesome, On'ry and Mean, an earlier tribute to Jennings, who died last year. It does have a greater sense of intimacy, though, with his widow, Jessi Colter, and his son Shooter (fronting his country-rock band Stargunn on the title song) making affecting contributions. But it's Travis Tritt who best captures Waylon's spirit with a gritty "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean."
REMEMBERING PATSY CLINE
Cline, who died in a plane crash in 1963, was a pop-jazz chanteuse trapped in a country singer's duds, and this roundly entertaining salute, including Lee Ann Womack, Natalie Cole and k.d. lang, features thoughtful arrangements better suited to Birdland than the Grand Ole Opry. Her signature song, "Crazy," is artfully rendered by cabaret favorite Diana Krall.
JUST BECAUSE I'M A WOMAN: SONGS OF DOLLY PARTON
Full of piquant surprises, this all-female project is a very enjoyable celebration of one of country's most revered figures. A genre-spanning guest list includes Melissa Etheridge, Norah Jones and R&B's Meshell Ndegeocello. The biggest revelation? Shania Twain's delicate, understated "Coat of Many Colors."