Country Strong, Gwyneth Paltrow

I’ve not yet seen Country Strong – it comes out here in the UK on Friday 25th March. All I know is that it stars Gwyneth Paltrow as a fictional country music star and it’s set in Nashville.

However, being a country music fan, I have listened to the Country Strong soundtrack (at least part of it). It’s streamed on the film’s official website so I couldn’t resist.

So, having checked it out, I’m ready to share my thoughts and views on this music selection. But first, I’d like you to check out this song by Vince Gill from 1994

Country Strong’s title track

Track One: Country Strong (Gwyneth Paltrow)

The word copycat comes to mind, and that applies also to Paltrow’s blatant Taylor Swift impersonation in that clip too. Shameless!

Now go and access the rest of the soundtrack via the Country Strong official website (skip the first track Country Strong if you don’t fancy listening to it again).

Track Two: Don’t Let Me Down (Chris Young & Patty Loveless)

Never heard of him – seems he’s a relatively new country star while she’s one of the long-established women of country – been around since the 80s, although I couldn’t name a single one of her songs. The deep male voice and southern female tones blend well for this duet and it has a pleasing country sound  but it’s totally forgettable.

Track Three: A little Bit Stronger (Sara Evans)

Lady Antebellum’s American Honey
https://youtube.com/watch?v=fXmLFPLPz1s
Hillary Lindsay.

Track Four: Chances Are (Garrett Hedlund)

I assumed this was some old-established country singer but no, he’s one of the film’s stars. What a great voice. The song conjures up images of a smoky, empty bar with a cowboy crying into his bottle of whisky. Love the deep male country voice. Not bad.

Track Five: Liars Lie (Lee Ann Womack)

Lee Ann Womack is in my opinion the best country artist in this selection – such a great voice. But the song’s rather bland and the lyrics are so uninspired. Liars Lie – talk about stating the obvious.

My cat would like it though. She loves a slide guitar – it reminds her of her own vocal talents.

Track Six: She’s Acting Single (I’m Drinking Doubles) – Ronnie Dunn (one half of Brookes and Dunn)

Finally, a song on this soundtrack that demonstrates the wit of the country lyricist – they just love playing with words. This one’s an oldie. It was a hit for Gary Stewart

Track Seven: Shake That Thing (Gwyneth Paltrow)

OK Gwyneth, you can sing and all as well as shake that thing

Gretchen Wilson song – I’m Here for the Party

Track Eight: Thirsty (Hank Williams Jr)

Bluesy boysy drinking song – the kind of thing that might preface a steamy bar brawl.

Track Nine: Give In To Me (Faith Hill)

This is one of the better tracks I think, as it actually builds like a ballad and Faith Hill is always fine.

Track Ten: Timing is Everything (Trace Adkins)

I rate this one at the top. Trace has a lovely deep male country voice and it’s a good old-fashioned country song, complete with one of those fabulous spoken bridges popular in the 70s and 80s.

Track Eleven: Words I Couldn’t Say (Leighton Meester)

Leighton is another of the film’s stars, and her singing voice is good. This is OK – a bit Carrie Underwood I’d say.

Track Twelve: Coming Home (Gwyneth Paltrow)

By far the best track of the bunch, this is the sort of song Faith Hill might sing, except she didn’t in this case.

Track Thirteen: Me & Tennessee (Tim McGraw & Gwyneth Paltrow)

under the moonlight…in the back of my truck with the radio on.

This Tim McGraw and Paltrow combo reminds me of a Taylor Swift song….

just a boy in a chevy truck, …the moon like a spotlight on the lake…

Which Swift song is that again?

Oh yes, Tim McGraw. Funny that.

Overall verdict: I can’t fault any of the singing, but vocally only Lee Ann Womack and Trace Adkins stand out as really distinctive voices. As for the songs, well… they’re all a bit bland and lyrically disappointing for country songs. I’d happily listen to this soundtrack as background – you can’t fault that great country sound. But, I’d not choose a single track for my personal playlist.

Maybe this is how it should be, so that the music doesn’t eclipse the story. I’ll have to wait to see the film to comment on that.

Come back on Friday for our Country Strong review here on Movie Talk.

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